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Daphne to Apollo. Imitated From The First Book Of Ovid's Metamorphosis


Abate, fair fugitive, abate thy speed,
Dismiss thy fears, and turn thy beauteous head;
With kind regard a panting lover view;
Less swiftly fly, less swiftly I'll pursue;
Pathless, alas! and rugged is the ground,
Some stone may hurt thee, or some thorn may wound.


This care is for himself as pure as death;
One mile has put the fellow out of breath:
He'll never go, I'll lead him th' other round;
Washy he is, perhaps not over sound.


You fly, alas! not knowing whom you fly;
Nor ill-bred swain, nor rusty clown am I:
I Claros' isle and Tenedos command -


Thank ye, I would not leave my native land.


What is to come be certain arts I know.


Pish! Partridge has a fair pretence as you.


Behold the beauty of my locks -


---------- A fig ---------
That may be counterfeit, a Spanish wig:
Who cares for all that bush of curling hair,
Whilst your smooth chin is so extremely bare?


I sing. -------


That never shall be Daphne's choice.
Syphacio had an admirable voice.


Of every herb I tell the mystic power,
To certain health the patient I restore,
Sent for, caress'd -


-- Ours is a wholesome air;
You'd better go to Town and practise there:
For me, I've no obstructions to remove;
I'm pretty well, I thank your father Jove,
And physic is a weak ally to love.


For learning famed, fine verses I compose.


So do your brother quacks and brother beaux;
Memorials only and reviews write prose.


From the bent yew I send the pointed reed,
Sure of its aim, and fatal in its speed. -


Then leaving me, whom sure you would not kill,
In yonder thicket exercise your skill:
Shoot there at beasts; but for the human heart
Your cousin Cupid has the only dart.


Yet turn, O beauteous maid, yet deign to hear
A love-sick deity's impetuous prayer!
O let me woo thee as thou wouldst be woo'd.


First, therefore, don't be so extremely rude;
Don't tear the hedges down and tread the clover,
Like an hobgoblin rather than a lover:
Next, to my father's grotto sometimes come,
At ebbing tide he always is at home.
Read the Courant with him, and let him know
A little politics, how matters go
Upon his brother-rivers Rhine or Po.
As any maid or footman comes or goes,
Pull off your hat and ask how Daphne does:
These sort of folks will to each other tell
That you respect me; that you know looks well!
Then if you are, as you pretend, the god
That rules the day, and much upon the road,
You'll find a hundred trifles in your way,
That you may bring one home from Africa;
Some little rarity, some bird or best,
And now and then a jewel from the East;
A lacquer'd cabinet, some China-ware;
You have them mighty cheap at Pekin fair.
note bene
, you shall never rove,
Nor take example by your father Jove.
Last, for the ease and comfort of my life,
Make me (Lord what startles you?) your wife.
I'm now (they say) sixteen, or something more;
We mortals seldom live about fourscore:
Fourscore; you're good at numbers; let us see,
Seventeen suppose, remaining sixty-three;
Ay, in that span of time you'll bury me.
Mean-time, if you have tumult, noise, and strife,
(Things not abhorrent to a married life)
They'll quickly end, you see; what signify
A few odd years to you that never die?
And, after all, you're half your time away,
You know your business takes you up all day;
And coming late to bed you need not fear,
Whatever noise I make, you'll sleep my dear;
Or, if a winter evening should be long,
Even read your physic-book, or make a song.
Your wife, your steeds, diachalon, and rhyme,
May take up any honest godhead's time.
Thus, as you like it, you may love again,
And let another Daphne have her reign.

Now love, or leave, my dear; retreat, or follow;
I Daphne (this premised) take thee Apollo;
And may I split into ten thousand trees
If I give up on other terms than these.

She said, but what the amorous god replied,
So Fate ordain'd, is to our search denied;
By rats, alas! the manuscript is ate;
O cruel banquet which we all regret;
Bavius, thy labours must this work restore,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:53 min read

Matthew Prior

Matthew Prior was an English poet and diplomat. more…

All Matthew Prior poems | Matthew Prior Books

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