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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Jacob Cats (1577–1660)

Cupid Lost

THE CHILD of Venus, wanton, wild,

The sliest rogue that ever smiled,

Has lately strayed—where, who shall guess?

His mother pines in sad distress;

She calls the boy, she sighs, complains,

But still no news of Cupid gains;

For, though her sorrow grows apace,

None knows the urchin’s resting-place.

She therefore vows the boy shall be

Cried o’er the country publicly:

“If there be any who can tell

Where little Cupid now doth dwell,

A fit reward he shall enjoy

If he track out the truant boy;

His recompense a fragrant kiss

From Venus’s ruby mouth of bliss.

But he who firmly holds the knave

Shall yet a sweeter guerdon have.

Now, lest ye should mistake the wight,

List to his form described aright:

He is a little wayward thing

That’s panoplied on fiery wing;

Two pinions, like a swan, he carries,

And never for an instant tarries,

But now is here, and now is there,

And couples many a curious pair.

His eyes like two bright stars are glowing,

And ever sidelong glances throwing.

He bears about a crafty bow,

And wounds before the wounded know;

His dart, though gilt to please the view,

Is dipped in bitter venom too.

His body, though ’tis bare to sight,

Has overthrown full many a knight;

His living torch, though mean and small,

Oft makes the hardiest warrior fall,

The highest dames with care invades,

And spares not e’en the tenderest maids.

Nay, what is worse than all the rest,

He sometimes wounds his mother’s breast.

“If such an urchin should be found,

Proclaim the joyous news around;

And should the boy attempt to fly,

Then seize him right courageously.

But if you have the child at last.

Be careful that you hold him fast,

Or else th’ elusive bird he’ll play,

And vanish in thin air away.

Yet, if he seem to pine and grieve,

You must not heed him, nor believe,

Nor trust his tears and feigned distress,

His winning glance and bland caress;

But watch his cheek when dimples wreathe it,

And think that evil lurks beneath it;

For under his pretended smile

Are veiled the deepest craft and guile.

If he a kiss should offer, shun

The proffered gift, or be undone;

His pretty lips thy heart would sentence

To brief delight, but long repentance.

But if the cunning boy would give

His dart to you, oh, ne’er receive,

If you would hope for blissful years,

The present that so fair appears:

It is no pledge of love, but shame,

And danger, and destroying flame.

“Then, friends, to speak with brevity,

This wholesome warning take from me:

Let those who seize the wily ranger

Be on their guard ’gainst every danger;

For, if they venture too securely,

Misfortunes will assail them surely;

And, if they trust the boy in aught,

The catchers will themselves be caught.”