Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
The Imperfect Enjoyment
By John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647–1680)
 
FRUITION was the question in debate,
Which like so hot a casuist I state,
That she my freedom urged as my offense
To teach my reason to subdue my sense;
But yet this angry cloud, that did proclaim        5
Volleys of thunder, melted into rain;
And this adult’rate stamp of seeming nice,
Made feigned virtue but a bawd to vice;
For, by a compliment that’s seldom known,
She thrusts me out, and yet invites me home;        10
And these denials, but advance delight,
As prohibition sharpens appetite;
For the kind curtain raising my esteem,
To wonder as the opening of the scene,
When of her breast her hands the guardians were,        15
Yet I salute each sullen officer:
Tho’ like the flaming sword before my eyes,
They block the passage to my paradise;
Nor could those tyrant-hands so guard the coin,
But love, where’t cannot purchase, may purloin:        20
For tho’ her breasts are hid, her lips are prize,
To make me rich beyond my avarice;
Yet my ambition my affection fed,
To conquer both the white rose and the red.
The event proved true, for on the bed she sate        25
And seemed to court what she had seemed to hate;
Heat of resistance had increased her fire,
And weak defense is turned to strong desire.
What unkind influence could interspose,
When two such stars did in conjunction close?        30
Only too hasty zeal my hopes did foil,
Pressing to feed her lamp, I spilt my oil;
And that which most reproach upon me hurled,
Was dead to her, gives life to all the world,
Nature’s chief prop, and motion’s primest source,        35
In me lost both their figure and their force.
Sad conquest! When it is the victor’s fate,
To die at the entrance of the op’ning gate:
Like prudent corporations had we laid
A common stock by, we’d improved our trade;        40
But as a prodigal heir, I spent bye-the-bye,
What, home directed, would serve her and I.
When next in such assaults I chance to be,
Give me less vigour, more activity;
For love turns impotent, when strained too high;        45
His very cordials, make him sooner die,
Evaporates in fume the fire too great;
Love’s chemistry thrives best in equal heat.
 
 
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