On a Candle

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Of all inhabitants on earth,
To man alone I owe my birth,
And yet the cow, the sheep, the bee,
Are all my parents more than he:
I, a virtue, strange and rare,
Make the fairest look more fair;
And myself, which yet is rarer,
Growing old, grow still the fairer.
Like sots, alone I'm dull enough,
When dosed with smoke, and smear'd with snuff;
But, in the midst of mirth and wine,
I with double luster shine.
Emblem of the Fair am I,
Polish'd neck, and radiant eye;
In my eye my greatest grace,
Emblem of the Cyclops' race;
Metals I like them subdue,
Slave like them to Vulcan too;
Emblem of a monarch old,
Wise, and glorious to behold;
Wasted he appears, and pale,
Watching for the public weal:
Emblem of the bashful dame,
That in secret feeds her flame,
Often aiding to impart
All the secrets of her heart;
Various is my bulk and hue,
Big like Bess, and small like Sue:
Now brown and burnish'd like a nut,
At other times a very slut;
Often fair, and soft and tender,
Taper, tall, and smooth, and slender:
Like Flora, deck'd with various flowers
Like Phoebus, guardian of the hours:
But whatever be my dress,
Greater be my size or less,
Swelling be my shape or small
Like thyself I shine in all.
Clouded if my face is seen,
My complexion wan and green,
Languid like a love-sick maid,
Steel affords me present aid.
Soon or late, my date is done,
As my thread of life is spun;
Yet to cut the fatal thread
Oft revives my drooping head;
Yet I perish in my prime,
Seldom by the death of time;
Die like lovers as they gaze,
Die for those I live to please;
Pine unpitied to my urn,
Nor warm the fair for whom I burn;
Unpitied, unlamented too,
Die like all that look on you.