Anacreon: Ode 9

by John Cunningham

John Cunningham


" Tell me, " said I, " my beauteous Dove,
(If an embassadress from Love,)
Tell me, on what soft errand sent,
Thy gentle flight is this way bent?

Ambrosial sweets thy pinions shed
As in the quivering breeze they spread! "

" A message, " says the bird, " I bear
From fond Anacreon to the fair;
A virgin of celestial grace!
The Venus of the human race!

Me, for an hymn, or amorous ode,
The Paphian Venus once bestow'd
To the sweet bard; for whom I'd fly
Unwearied to the farthest sky.

Through the soft air he bade me glide,
(See, to my wing his billet's tied,)
And told me 'twas his kind decree,
When I return'd, to set me free.

'Twould prove me but a simple bird,
To take Anacreon at his word:
Why should I hide me in the wood,
Or search for my precarious food,
When I've my master's leave to stand
Cooing upon his friendly hand;
When I can be profusely fed
With crumbs of his ambrosial bread,
And, welcom'd to his nectar bowl,
Sip the rich drops that fire the soul;
Till in fantastic rounds I spread
My fluttering pinions o'er his head:
Or if he strike the trembling wire,
I perch upon my favourite lyre;
Till lull'd into luxuriant rest,
Sleep steals upon my raptur'd breast. "

Go, stranger — to your business — go,
I've told you all you wish'd to know:
Go, stranger, — and I think you'll say,
This prattling Dove's an arrant Jay.

Last updated September 05, 2017