The Cynthia of this Minute



Nothing so true as what you once let fall,

“Most Women have no Characters at all.”

Matter too soft a lasting mark to bear,

And best distinguish’d by black, brown, or fair.


         How many pictures of one nymph we view,

All how unlike each other, all how true!

Arcadia’s Countess, here, in ermin’d pride,

Is, there, Pastora by a fountain side.

Here Fannia, leering on her own good man,

And there, a naked Leda with a Swan.

Let then the Fair one beautifully cry,

In Magdalen’s loose hair and lifted eye,

Or dress’d in smiles of sweet Cecilia shine,

With simp’ring angels, palms, and harps divine;

Whether the charmer sinner it, or saint it,

If folly grows romantic, I must paint it.


         Come then, the colours and the ground prepare!

Dip in the rainbow, trick her off in air;

Choose a firm cloud, before it fall, and in it

Catch, ere she change, the Cynthia of this minute.


from:  To a Lady on the Characters of Women  by Alexander Pope

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