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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Prologues and Epilogues
A Prologue (“Gallants, a bashful Poet bids me say”)
 
GALLANTS, 1 a bashful Poet bids me say
He’s come to lose his Maidenhead to-day.
Be not too fierce, for he’s but green of Age,
And ne’re till now debauch’d upon the Stage.
He wants the suff’ring part of Resolution,        5
And comes with blushes to his Execution.
E’re you deflow’r his Muse, he hopes the Pit
Will make some Settlement upon his Wit.
Promise him well, before the Play begin;
For he wou’d fain be cozen’d into Sin.        10
’Tis not but that he knows you mean to fail;
But, if you leave him after being frail,
He’ll have, at least, a fair Pretence to rail;
To call you base, and swear you us’d him ill,
And put you in the new Deserters Bill:        15
Lord, what a Troop of perjur’d Men we see;
Enough to fill another Mercury!
But this the Ladies may with patience brook:
Their’s are not the first Colours you forsook!
He wou’d be loth the Beauties to offend;        20
But if he shou’d, he’s not too old to mend.
He’s a young Plant, in his first Year of bearing,
But his Friend swears he will be worth the reering.
His Gloss is still upon him, tho’s ’tis true
He’s yet unripe, yet take him for the blue.        25
You think an Apricot half green is best;
There’s sweet and sour; and one side good at least.
Mango’s and Limes, 2 whose Nourishment is little,
Tho’ not for Food, are yet preserv’d for Pickle.
So this green Writer may pretend, at least,        30
To whet your Stomachs for a better Feast.
He makes this Difference in the Sexes too;
He sells to Men, he gives himself to you.
To both he wou’d contribute some delight;
A mere Poetical Hermaphrodite,        35
Thus he’s equipp’d, both to be woo’d and woo;
With Arms offensive, and defensive too;
’Tis hard, he thinks, if neither part will do.
 
Note 1. Published in the Miscellanies of 1693. [back]
Note 2. Limes] Berries in posthumous editions. [back]
 
 
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