Alexander Pope

Soundings Index

Canto I (121-148)

 	And now, unveil'd, the Toilet stands display'd,
 Each silver Vase in mystic order laid.
 First, rob'd in white, the Nymph intent adores,
 With head uncover'd, the Cosmetic pow're.
 A heav'nly Image in the glass appears,
 To that she bends, to that her eyes she rears;
 Th' inferior Priestess, at her altar's side,
 Trembling, begins the sacred rites of Pride.
 Unnumber'd treasures ope at once, and here
 The various off'rings of the world appear;
 From each she nicely culls with curious toil,
 And decks the Goddess with the glitt'ring spoil.
 This casket India's glowing gems unlocks,
 And all Arabia breathes from yonder box.
 The Tortoise here and Elephant unite,
 Transform'd to combs, the speckled, and the white.
 Here flies of pins extend their shining rows,
 Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux,
 Now awful Beauty puts on all its arms;
 The fair each moment rises in her charms,
 Repairs her smiles, awakens ev'ry grace,
 And calls forth all the wonders of her face;
 Sees by degrees a purer blush arise,
 And keener lightnings quicken in her eyes.
 The busy Sylphs surround their darling care,
 These set the head, and those divide the hair,
 Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown;
 And Betty's prais'd for labours not her own.

Canto II (47-86)

 	But now secure the painted vessel glides,
 The sun-beams trembling on the floating tides:
 While melting music steals upon the sky,
 And soften'd sounds along the waters die;
 Smooth flow the waves, the Zephyrs gently play,
 Belinda smil'd, and all the world was gay.
 All but the Sylph--with careful thoughts opprest,
 Th' impending woe sat heavy on his breast.
 He summons strait his Denizens of air;
 The lucid squadrons round the sails repair;
 Soft o'er the shrouds of aerial whispers breathe,
 That seem'd but Zephyrs to the train beneath.
 Some to the sun their insect-wings unfold,
 Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold;
 Transparent forms, too fine for mortal sight,
 Their fluid bodies half dissolv'd in light.
 Loose to the wind their airy garments flew,
 Thin glitt'ring textures of the filmy dew,
 Dipt in the richest tincture of the skies,
 Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes,
 While ev'ry beam new transient colours flings,
 Colours that change whene'er they wave their wings.

Canto III (1-24)

 Close by those meads, for ever crown'd with flow'rs,
 Where Thames with pride surveys his rising tow'rs,
 There stands a structure of majestic frame,
 Which from the neighb'ring Hampton takes its name.
 Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom
 Of foreign Tyrants, and of Nymphs at home;
 Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
 Dost sometimes counsel take--and sometimes Tea.
 	Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort,
 To taste awhile the pleasures of a Court;
 In various talk th' instructive hours they past,
 Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last;
 One speaks the glory of the British Queen,
 And one describes a charming Indian screen;
 A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes;
 At ev'ry word a reputation dies.
 Snuff, or the fan, supply each pause of chat,
 With singing, laughing, ogling, and all that.
 	Mean while, declining from the noon of day,
 The sun obliquely shoots his burning ray;
 The hungry Judges soon the sentence sign,
 And wretches hang that jury-men may dine;
 The merchant from th'Exchange returns in peace,
 And the long labours of the Toilet cease.

Canto III (105-160)

 For lo! the board with cups and spoons is crown'd,
 The berries crackle, and the mill turns round;
 On shining Altars of Japan they raise
 The silver lamp; the fiery spirits blaze:
 From silver spouts the grateful liquors glide,
 While China's earth receives the smoaking tide:
 At once they gratify their scent and taste,
 And frequent cups prolong the rich repaste.
 Strait hover round the Fair her airy band;
 Some, as she sipp'd, the fuming liqour fann'd,
 Some o'er her lap their careful plumes display'd,
 Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade.
 Coffee (which makes the politician wise,
 And see thro' all things with his half-shut eyes)
 Sent up in vapours to the Baron's brain
 New stratagems, the radiant Lock to gain.
 Ah cease, rash youth! desist ere 'tis too late,
 Fear the just Gods, and think of Scylla's Fate!
 Chang'd to a bird, and sent to flit in air,
 She dearly pays for Nisus' injur'd hair!
 	But when to mischief mortals bend thier will,
 How soon they find fit instruments of ill!
 Just then, Clarissa drew with tempting grace
 A two-edg'd weapon from her shining case:
 So Ladies in Romance assist their Knight,
 Present the spear, and arm him for the fight.
 He takes the gift with rev'rence, and extends
 The little engine on his fingers' ends;
 This just behind Belinda's neck he spread,
 As o'er the gragrant steams she bens her head.
 Swift to the Lock a thousand Sprites repair,
 A thousand wings, by turns, blow back the hair;
 And thrice they twitch'd the diamond in her ear;
 Thrice she look'd back, and thrice the foe drew near.
 Just in that instant, anxious Ariel sought
 The close recesses of the Virgin's thought;
 As on the nosegay in her breast reclin'd,
 He watch'd th'Ideas rising in her mind,
 Sudden he view'd, in spite of all her art,
 An earthly Lover lurking at her heart.
 Amaz'd, confus'd, he found his pow'r expir'd,
 Resign'd to fate, and with a sigh retir'd.
 	The Peer now spreads the glitt'ring Forfex wide,
 T' inclose the Lock; now joins it, to divide.
 Ev'n then, before the fatal engine clos'd,
 A wretched Sylph too fondly interpos'd;
 Fate urg'd the sheers, and cut the Sylph in twain,
 (But airy substance soon unites again)
 The meeting points the sacred hair dissever
 From the fair head, for ever, and for ever!
 	Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes,
 And screams of horror rend th' affrighted skies.
 Not louder shrieks to pitying heav'n are cast,
 When husbands or when lap-dogs breathe their last;
 Or when rich China vessels, fall'n from high,
 In glitt'ring dust, and painted fragments lie!

Canto IV (113-140)

 And shall the prize, th' inestimable prize,
 Expos'd thro' crystal to the gazing eyes,
 And heighten'd by the diamond's circling rays,
 On that rapacious hand for ever blaze?
 Sooner shall grass in Hyde-park Circus grow,
 And wits take lodgings in the sound of Bow;
 Sooner let earth, air, sea, to Chaos fall,
 Men, monkeys, lap-dogs, parrots, perish all!
 	She said; then raging to Sir Plume repairs,
 And bids her Beau demand the precious hairs:
 (Sir Plume of amber snuff-box justly vain,
 And the nice conduct of a clouded cane)
 With earnest eyes, and round unthinking face,
 He first the snuff-box open'd, then the case,
 And thus broke out--'My Lord, why, what the devil?
 'Z-ds! damn the lock! 'fore Gad, you must be civil!
 'Plague on't! 'tis past a jest--nay prithee, pox!
 'Give her the hair'--he spoke, and rapp'd his box.
 	It grieves me much (reply'd the Peer again)
 Who speaks so well should ever speak in vain.
 But by this Lock, this sacred Lock I swear,
 (Which never more shall join its parted hair;
 Which never more its honours shall renew,
 Clip'd from the lovely head where late it grew)
 That while my nostrils draw the vital air,
 This hand, which won it, shall for ever wear.
 He spoke, and speaking, in proud triumph spread
 The long-contended honours of her head.

Canto V (37-86)

 To arms, to arms! the fierce Virago cries,
 And swift as lightning to the combat files.
 Al side in parties, and begin th' attack;
 Fans clap, silks russle, and though whalebones crack;
 Heroes and Heroines shouts confus'dly rise,
 And base, and treble voices strike the skies.
 No common weapons in their hands are found,
 Like Gods they fight, nor dread a mortal wound.
	So when bold Homes makes the Gods engage,
 And heav'nly breasts with human passions rage;
 'Gainst Pallas, Mars; Latona, Hermes arms;
 And all Olympus rings with loud alarms:
 Jove's thunder roars, heav'n trembles all around,
 Blue Neptune storms, the bellowing deeps resound:
 Earth shakes her nodding towr's, the ground gives way,
 And the pale ghosts start at the flash of day!
 	Triumphant Umbriel on a sconce's height
 Clap'd his glad wings, and sate to view the fight:
 Prop'd on their bodin spears, the Sprites survey
 The growing combat, or assist the fray.
 	While thro' the press enrag'd Thalestris flies,
 And scatters death around from both her eyes,
 A Beau and Witling perish'd in the throng,
 One dy'd in metaphor, and one in song.
 'O cruel nymph! a living death I bear,'
 Cry'd Dapperwit, and sunk beside his chair.
 A mournful glance Sir Fopling upwards cast,
 'Those eyes are made so killing'--was his last.
 Thus on Maeander's flow'ry margin lies
 Th'expiring Swan, and as he sings he dies.
 When bold Sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down,
 Chloe stepp'd in, and kill'd him with a frown;
 She smil'd to see the doughty hero slain,
 But, at her smile, the Beau reviv'd again.
 	Now Jove suspends his golden scales in air,
 Weighs the Men's wits against the Lady's hair;
 The doubtful beam long nods from side to side;
 At length the wits mount up, the hairs subside.
 	See fierce Belinda on the Baron flies,
 With more than usual lightning in her eyes:
 Nor fear'd the Chief th' unequal fight to try,
 Who sought no more than on his foe to die.
 But this bold Lord sith manly strength endu'd,
 She with one finger and a thumb subdu'd:
 Just where breath of life his nostrils drew,
 A charge of Snuff the wily virgin threw;
 The Gnomes direct, to ev'ry atom just,
 The pungent grains of titillating dust.
 Sudden, with starting tears each eye o'erflows,
 And the high dome re-echoes to his nose.

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