To the Fair Clarinda

Aphra Behn

Edited by Jack Lynch

Commentary and a note on the text will follow. Note that this is a reading text, with no pretense to being a critical edition.


To the Fair Clarinda

Who Made Love to Me, Imagin'd More than Woman

Fair lovely Maid, or if that Title be
Too weak, too Feminine for Nobler thee,
Permit a Name that more Approaches Truth:
And let me call thee, Lovely Charming Youth.
This last will justifie my soft complainte, [5]
While that may serve to lessen my constraint;
And without Blushes I the Youth persue,
When so much beauteous Woman is in view
Against thy Charms we struggle but in vain
With thy deluding Form thou giv'st us pain, [10]
While the bright Nymph betrays us to the Swain.
In pity to our Sex sure thou wer't sent,
That we might Love, and yet be Innocent:
Or if we shou'd — thy Form excuses it.
For who, that gathers fairest Flowers believes [15]
A Snake lies hid beneath the Fragrant Leaves.

Thou beauteous Wonder of a different kind,
Soft Cloris with the dear Alexis join'd;
When e'er the Manly part of thee, wou'd plead
Thou tempts us with the Image of the Maid, [20]
While we the noblest Passions do extend
The Love to Hermes, Aphrodite the Friend.