The Antiplatonic by John Cleveland

For shame, thou everlasting wooer,
Still saying grace and never falling to her!
Love that’s in contemplation placed
Is Venus drawn but to the waist.
Unless your flame confess its gender
And your parley cause surrender,
You are salamanders of a cold desire
That live untouched amidst the hottest fire.

What though she be a dame of stone,
The widow of Pygmalion,
As hard and unrelenting she
As the new crusted Niobe,
Or, (what doth more of statue carry,)
A nun of the Platonic quarry?
Love melts the rigor which the rocks have bred–
A flint will break upon a feather-bed.

For shame, you pretty female elves,
Cease thus to candy up your selves;
No more, you sectaries of the game,
No more of your calcining flame!
Women commence by Cupid’s dart
As a king hunting dubs a hart.
Love’s votaries enthrall each other’s soul
Till both of them live but upon parole.

Virtue’s no more in womankind
But the green-sickness of the mind;
Philosophy (their new delight)
A kind of charcoal appetite.
There is no sophistry prevails
Where all-convincing love assails,
But the disputing petticoat will warp,
As skillful gamesters are to seek at sharp.

The soldier, that man of iron,
Whom ribs of horror all environ,
That’s strung with wire instead of veins
In whose embraces you’re in chains,
Let a magnetic girl appear,
Straight he turns Cupid’s cuirassier.
Love storms his lips, and takes the fortress in,
For all the bristled turnpikes of his chin.

Since love’s artillery then checks
The breastworks of the firmest sex,
Come let us in affections riot.
They are sickly pleasures keep a diet.
Give me a lover bold and free,
Not eunuched with formality,
Like an embassador that beds a queen
With the nice caution of a sword between.

From: Cleveland, John and Berdan, John M. (ed.), The Poems of John Cleveland: Annotated and correctly printed for the first time with Biographical and Historical Introductions by John M. Berdan, Ph.D., 1903, The Grafton Press: New York, pp. 78-79.
(https://archive.org/stream/poemsofjohncleve00cle#page/78/mode/2up)

Date: 1656

By: John Cleveland (1613-1658)

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