chapter  12
The Golden Age. A Paraphrase on a Translation out of French.
Pages 6

I Blest Age! when ev’ry Purling Stream Ran undisturbed and clear, When no scorn’d Shepherds on your Banks were seen, Tortur’d by Love, by Jealousie, or Fear; 5 When an Eternal Spring drest ev’ry Bough, And Blossoms fell, by new ones dispossest; These their kind Shade affording all below, And those a Bed where all below might rest. The Groves appear’d all drest with Wreaths of Flowers, 10 And from their Leaves dropt Aromatick Showers, Whose fragrant Heads in Mystick Twines above, Exchang’d their Sweets, and mix’d with thousand Kisses, As if the willing Branches strove To beautifie and shade the Grove 15 Where the young wanton Gods of Love Offer their Noblest Sacrifice of Blisses. II Calm was the Air, no Winds blew fierce and loud, The Skie was dark’ned with no sullen Cloud; But all the Heav’ns laugh’d with continued Light, 20 And scatter’d round their Rays serenely bright. No other Murmurs fill’d the Ear But what the Streams and Rivers purl’d, When Silver Waves o’er Shining Pebbles curl’d; Or when young Zephirs fan’d the Gentle Breez, 25 Gath’ring fresh Sweets from Balmy Flow’rs and Trees, Then bore ’em on their Wings to perfume all the Air: 31 While to their soft and tender Play, The Gray-Plum’d Natives of the Shades Unwearied sing till Love invades, 30 Then Bill, then sing agen, while Love and Musick makes the Day. III The stubborn Plough had then, Made no rude Rapes upon the Virgin Earth; Who yeilded of her own accord her plentious Birth; Without the Aids of men; 35 As if within her Teeming Womb, All Nature, and all Sexes lay, Whence new Creations every day Into the happy World did come: The Roses fill’d with Morning Dew; 40 Bent down their loaded heads, T’Adorn the careless Shepherds Grassy Beds While still young opening Buds each moment grew And as those withered, drest his shaded Couch a new; Beneath who’s boughs the Snakes securely dwelt, 45 Not doing harm, nor harm from others felt; With whom the Nymphs did Innocently play, No spightful Venom in the wantons lay; But to the touch were Soft, and to the sight were Gay. IV Then no rough sound of Wars Alarms, 50 Had taught the World the needless use of Arms: Monarchs were uncreated then, Those Arbitrary Rulers over men; Kings that made Laws, first broke ’em, and the Gods By teaching us Religion first, first set the World at Odds: 55 Till then Ambition was not known, That Poyson to Content, Bane to Repose; Each Swain was Lord o’er his own will alone, His Innocence Religion was, and Laws. Nor needed any troublesome defence 60 Against his Neighbours Insolence. Flocks, Herds, and every necessary good Which bounteous Nature had design’d for Food, 32 Whose kind increase o’er-spread the Meads and Plaines, Was then a common Sacrifice to all th’agreeing Swaines. V 65 Right and Property were words since made, When Power taught Mankind to invade: When Pride and Avarice became a Trade; Carri’d on by discord, noise and wars, For which they barter’d wounds and scarrs; 70 And to Inhaunce the Merchandize, miscall’d it, Fame, And Rapes, Invasions, Tyrannies, Was gaining of a Glorious Name: Stiling their salvage slaughters, Victories; Honour, the Error and the Cheat 75 Of the Ill-natur’d Bus’ey Great, Nonsense, invented by the Proud, Fond Idol of the slavish Crowd, Thou wert not known in those blest days Thy Poyson was not mixt with our unbounded Joyes; 80 Then it was glory to pursue delight, And that was lawful all, that Pleasure did invite, Then ’twas the Amorous world injoy’d its Reign; And Tyrant Honour strove t’ usurp in Vain. VI The flowry Meads the Rivers and the Groves, 85 Were fill’d with little Gay-wing’d Loves: That ever smil’d and danc’d and Play’d, And now the woods, and now the streames invade, And where they came all things were gay and glad: When in the Myrtle Groves the Lovers sat 90 Opprest with a too fervent heat; A Thousand Cupids fann’d their wings aloft, And through the Boughs the yielded Ayre would waft: Whose parting Leaves discovered all below, And every God his own soft power admir’d, 95 And smil’d and fann’d, and sometimes bent his Bow; Where e’er he saw a Shepherd uninspir’d. The Nymphs were free, no nice, no coy disdain, Deny’d their Joyes, or gave the Lover pain; The yielding Maid but kind Resistance makes; 33100 Trembling and blushing are not marks of shame, But the Effect of kindling Flame: Which from the sighing burning Swain she takes, While she with tears all soft, and down-cast eyes, Permits the Charming Conqueror to win the Prize. VII 105 The Lovers thus, thus uncontroul’d did meet, Thus all their Joyes and Vows of Love repeat: Joyes which were everlasting, ever new And every Vow inviolably true; Not kept in fear of Gods, no fond Religious cause, 110 Nor in Obedience to the duller Laws. Those Fopperies of the Gown were then not known, Those vain those Politick Curbs to keep man in, Who by a fond mistake Created that a Sin; Which freeborn we, by right of Nature claim our own. 115 Who but the Learned and dull moral Fool Could gravely have forseen, man ought to live by Rule? VIII Oh cursed Honour! thou who first didst damn, A Woman to the Sin of shame; Honour! that rob’st us of our Gust, 120 Honour! that hindred mankind first, At Loves Eternal Spring to squench his amorous thirst. Honour! who first taught lovely Eyes the art, To wound, and not to cure the heart: With Love to invite, but to forbid with Awe, 125 And to themselves prescribe a Cruel Law; To Veil ’em from the Lookers on, When they are sure the slave’s undone, And all the Charmingst part of Beauty hid; Soft Looks, consenting Wishes, all deny’d. 130 It gathers up the flowing Hair, That loosely plaid with wanton Air. The Envious Net, and stinted order hold, The lovely Curls of Jet and shining Gold, No more neglected on the Shoulders hurl’d: 135 Now drest to Tempt, not gratify the World, Thou Miser Honour hord’st the sacred store, And starv’st thy self to keep thy Votaries poor. <target id="page_34" target-type="page">34</target>IX Honour! that put’st our words that should be free Into a set Formality. 140 Thou base Debaucher of the generous heart, That teachest all our Looks and Actions Art; What Love design’d a sacred Gift, What Nature made to be possest, Mistaken Honour, made a Theft, 145 For Glorious Love should be confest: For when confin’d, all the poor Lover gains, Is broken Sighs, pale Looks, Complaints, & Pains. Thou Foe to Pleasure, Nature’s worst Disease, Thou Tyrant over mighty Kings, 150 What mak’st thou here in Shepheards Cottages; Why troublest thou, the quiet Shades & Springs? Be gone, and make thy Fam’d resort To Princes Pallaces; Go Deal and Chaffer in the Trading Court, 155 That busie Market for Phantastick Things; Be gone and interrupt the short Retreat, Of the Illustrious and the Great; Go break the Politicians sleep, Disturb the Gay Ambitious Fool, 160 That longs for Scepters, Crowns, and Rule, Which not his Title, nor his Wit can keep; But let the humble honest Swain go on, In the blest Paths of the first rate of man; That nearest were to Gods Alli’d, 165 And form’d for love alone, disdain’d all other Pride. X Be gone! and let the Golden age again, Assume its Glorious Reign; Let the young wishing Maid confess, What all your Arts would keep conceal’d: 170 The Mystery will be reveal’d, And she in vain denies, whilst we can guess, She only shows the Jilt to teach man how, To turn the false Artillery on the Cunning Foe. Thou empty Vision hence, be gone, 175 And let the peaceful Swain love on; The swift pac’d hours of life soon steal away: 35 Stint not yee Gods his short liv’d Joy. The Spring decays, but when the Winter’s gone, The Trees and Flowers a new comes on. 180 The Sun may set, but when the night is fled, And gloomy darkness does retire, He rises from his Watry Bed: All Glorious, Gay, all drest in Amorous Fire. But Sylvia when your Beauties fade, 185 When the fresh Roses on your Cheeks shall die, Like Flowers that wither in the Shade, Eternally they will forgotten lye, And no kind Spring their sweetness will supply. When Snow shall on those lovely Tresses lye 190 And your fair Eyes no more shall give us pain, But shoot their pointless Darts in vain. What will your duller honour signifie? Go boast it then! and see what numerous Store Of Lovers, will your Ruin’d Shrine Adore. 195 Then let us Sylvia yet be wise, And the Gay hasty minutes prize: The Sun and Spring receive but our short Light, Once sett, a sleep brings an Eternal Night.