Quintessensual Weaponry

Mother Nature does in every case dispense
to all living things arms and armour for defense.
Some have sinewy force,
Some swiftness in their course,
some hard hooves or sharp claws,
some horns or tusked jaws,
some scales, and others wings,
some fangs, and some sharp stings.
To us humans, she did afford
wisdom for shield and wit for sword.

But she has for beauteous womankind,
still more armour and armaments assigned.
Beauty is both; for with the fair
what protection, what arms compare?
What steel, what gold, what diamond,
more impenetrable be found?
What flame, what lightning ere,
so great a force did bear?
Yes, woman is all weapon! She can dart
like a hot porcupine from ev'ry part.

She can, alas, her better strength express,
when she herself slowly does so undress,
from face, to breasts, to complete, nakedness.

Copr. 1999
Adapted from the translation by Abraham Cowley (1618-1667)
of a passage from "Anacreontea" (anonymous, c.100BC-600AD)
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