Ye woods and wilds, serene and blest retreats,
Atone the lovers' and the muses' seats;
To you I fly, to you, ye sacred groves,
To tell my wond'rous tales of wond'rous loves.
Thee, Delia, thee shall ev'ry shepherd sing,
With thy dear name the neighb'ring woods shall ring;
No name but thine shall on their barks be found,
With none but thine shall echoing hills resound.
My verse thy matchless beauties shall proclaim,
Till thine outrivals Sacharissa's fame;
My verse shall make thee live while woods shall grow,
While stars shall shine, and while the seas shall flow;
While there remains alive a tender maid,
Or am'rous youth, or love-sick swain to read.
Others may artfully the passions move,
In me alone 'tis natural to love;
While the world sees me write in such a strain,
As shews I only feel what others feign.
Thou darling of my youth, my life's delight.
By day my vision, and my dream by night,
Thou, who alone dost all my thoughts infuse,
And art at once my mistress and my muse;
Inspir'd from thee, flows ev'ry sacred line,
Thine is the poetry, the poet thine.
Thy service shall my only bus'ness be,
And all my life employ'd in pleasing thee.
Crown'd with my songs of thee, each day shall move,
And ev'ry list'ning son hear nought but love;
With flowing numbers ev'ry page shall roll,
Where, as you read my verse, receive my soul.
Should sense, and wit, and art refuse to join
In all I write, and fail my great design,
Yet with such passion shall my lines be crown'd,
And so much softness in my poem found,
Such moving tenderness, the world shall see,
Love could have been describ'd by none but me.
Let Dryden from his works with justice claim
Immortal praise! I from my sacred flame
Draw all my glory, challenge all my fame.
Believe me, Delia, lovers have their wars,
And Cupid has his camp as well as Mars.
That age which suits a soldier best, will prove
The fittest for the sharp fatigues of love;
None but young men the toils of war can bear,
None but young men can serve and please the fair;
Youth with the foe maintains the vig'rous fight,
Youth gives the longing maid the full delight.
On either hand like hardship it sustains,
Great are the soldier's, great the lover's pains.
Th' event of war no gen'ral can foreknow,
And that, alas! of love is doubtful too.
In various fields, whatever chance shall fall,
The soldier must resolve to bear it all;
With the like constancy must lovers wait,
Enduring bad, and hoping better fate;
Thro' doubts and fears, desires and wishes tost,
Undaunted, they must strain to reach the coast;
All will awhile look hideous to their eye,
The threat'ning storm still thickening in the sky,
No sight of land, no friendly harbour nigh.
Yet thro' all this the vent'rous lover steers,
To reap the golden crop that beauty bears;
So the bold mariners the seas explore,
Tho' winds blow hard, and waves like thunder roast
Rather than live in poverty on shore.
Embolden'd thus, let ev'ry youth set sail,
And trust to fortune for a prosp'rous gale;
Let them launch boldly from the lazy shore,
Nor fear a storm which will at last blow o'er.
Set all their reins to all their passions free,
Give wings to their desires, and love like me.
Happy that youth who, when his stars incline
His soul to love, can make a choice like mine.

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