Thomas Parnell

Here you will find the Long Poem Hesiod: or, The Rise of Woman of poet Thomas Parnell

Hesiod: or, The Rise of Woman

What ancient times (those times we fancy wise) 
Have left on long record of woman's rise, 
What morals teach it, and what fables hide, 
What author wrote it, how that author dy'd 
All these I sing. In Greece they fram'd the tale 
(In Greece 'twas thought a woman might be frail); 
Ye modern beauties! where the Poet drew 
His softest pencil, thin he dreamt of you; 
And, warn'd by him, ye wanton pens beware 
How Heaven's concern'd to vindicate the fair. 
The case was Hesiod's; he the fable writ; 
Some think with meaning, some with idle wit: 
Perhaps 'tis either, as the ladies please; 
I wave the contest, and commence the lays. 
In days of yore (no matter what or when, 
'Twas ere the low creation swarm'd with men) 
That one Prometheus, sprung of heavenly birth, 
(Our Author's song can witness) liv'd on earth: 
He carv'd the turf to mould a manly frame, 
And stole from Jove his animating flame. 
The sly contrivance o'er Olympus ran, 
When thus the Monarch of the Stars began. 
O vers'd in arts! whose daring thoughts aspire, 
To kindle clay with never-dying fire! 
Enjoy thy glory past, that gift was thine; 
The next thy creature meets, be fairly mine: 
And such a gift, a vengence so design'd, 
As suits the counsel of a God to find; 
A pleasing bosom-cheat, a specious ill, 
Which felt the curse, yet covets still to feel. 
He said, and Vulcan straight the Sire commands, 
To temper mortar with Etherial hands; 
In such a shape to mould a rising fair; 
As virgin goddesses are proud to wear; 
To make her eyes with diamond-water shine, 
And form her organs for a voice divine 
'Twas thus the Sire ordain'd; the Power obey'd; 
And work'd, and wonder'd at the work he made; 
The fairest, softest, sweetest frame beneath, 
Now made to seem, now more than seem to breathe. 
As Vulcan ends, the cheerful Queen of Charms 
Clasp'd the new-panting creature in her arms: 
From that embrace a fine complexion spread, 
Where mingled whiteness glow'd with softer red. 
Then in a kiss she breath'd her various arts, 
Of triffling prettily with wounded hearts; 
A mind for love, but still a changing mind; 
The lisp affected, and the glance design'd 
The sweet confusing blush, the secret wink, 
The gentle swimming walk, the courteous sink; 
The stare for strangeness fit, for scorn the frown; 
For decent yielding, looks declining down; 
The practis'd languish, where well-feign'd desire 
Would its own melting in a mutual fire; 
Gay smiles to comfort; April showers to move; 
And all the nature, all the art of love. 
Gold scepter'd Juno next exalts the fair; 
Her touch endows her with imperious air, 
Self-valuing fancy, highly-crested pride, 
Strong soverign will, and some desire to chide; 
For which an eloquence, that aims to vex, 
With native tropes of anger, arms the sex. 
Minerva, skillful goddess, train'd the maid 
To twirle the spindle by the twisting thread; 
To fix the loom, instruct the reeds to part, 
Cross the long weft, and close the web with art, 
A useful gift; but what profuse expense, 
What world of fashions, took its rise from hence! 
Young Hermes next, a close contriving god, 
Her brows encircled with his serpent rod; 
Then plots and fair excuses fill'd her brain, 
The views of breaking amorous vows for gain; 
The price of favours; the designing arts 
That aim at riches in contempt of hearts; 
And, for a comfort in the marriage life, 
The little pilfering temper of a wife. 
Full on the fair his beams Apollo flung, 
And fond persuasion tipp'd her easy tongue; 
He gave her words, where oily flattery lays 
The pleasing colours of the art of praise;, 
And wit, to scandal equisitely prone 
Which frets another's spleen to cure its own. 
Those sacred Virgins1 whom the bards revere 
Tun'd all her voice, and shed a sweetness there, 
To make her sense with double charms abound, 
Or make her lively nonsense please by sound. 
To dress the maid, the decent Graces brought 
A robe in all the dies of beauty wrought, 
And plac'd their boxes o'er a rich brocade, 
Where pictured Loves on every cover play'd; 
Then spread those implements that Vulcan's art 
Had frame'd to merit Cytherea's heart; 
The wire to curl, the close indented comb 
To call the locks, that lightly wander, home; 
And chief, the mirror,where the ravish'd maid 
Beholds and loves her own reflected shade. 
Fair Flora lent her stores; the purpled Hours 
Confin'd her tresses with a wreath of flowers; 
Within the wreath arose a radiant crown; 
A veil pellucid hung depending down; 
Back roll'd her azure veil with surpent fold, 
The pursled border deck'd the floor with gold. 
Her robe (which closely by the girdle brac'd 
Reveal'd the beauties of a slender waist) 
Flow'd to the feet,