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.
 
An Epistle from Ephelia to Bajazet, Complaining of His Inconstancy
By John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647–1680)
 
(1677)

I
HOW far they are deceiv’d, who hope in vain
A lasting Lease of Joys from Love t’obtain?
All the dear Sweets we’re promised or expect,
After Enjoyment turns to cold Neglect.
Could Love a constant Happiness have known,        5
That mighty Wonder had in me been shown;
Our Passions were so favoured by Fate,
As if she meant ’em an eternal Date;
So kind he looked, such tender Words he spoke,
’Twas past Belief such Vows should e’er be broke:        10
Fixt on my Eyes, how often would he say,
He could with Pleasure gaze an Age away.
When Thoughts too great for Words had made him mute,
In Kisses he would tell my Hand his Suit:
So strong his Passion was, so far above        15
The common Gallantries that pass for Love:
At worst, I thought, if he unkind should prove,
His ebbing Passion would be kinder far
Than the first Transports of all others are:
Nor was my Love or Fondness less than his;        20
In him I centred all my Hopes of Bliss;
For him my Duty to my Friends forgot,
For him I lost, alas! what lost I not?
Fame, all the valuable Things of Life,
To meet his Love by a less Name than Wife:        25
How happy was I then, how dearly blest,
When this great Man lay panting on my Breast,
Looking such Things as ne’er could be expressed?
Thousand fresh Looks he gave me ev’ry Hour,
Whilst greedily I did his Looks devour;        30
’Till quite o’ercome with Charms, I trembling lay,
At ev’ry Look he gave, melting away,
I was so highly happy in his Love,
Methought I pity’d them that dwelt Above.
Think then, thou greatest, loveliest, falsest Man.        35
How you have vowed, how you have loved, and then,
My faithless Dear, be cruel if you can.
How I have loved, I cannot, need not tell;
No, ev’ry Act has shown I loved too well.
Since first I saw you, I ne’er had a Thought        40
Was not entirely yours; to you I brought
My Virgin Innocence, and freely made
My Love an Off’ring to your noble Bed:
Since then you’ve been the Star by which I steered,
And nothing else but you, I loved or feared;        45
Your Smiles I only live by, and I must,
Whene’er you frown, be shattered into Dust.
O! can the Coldness that you shew me now,
Suit with the gen’rous Heat you once did show?
I cannot live on Pity or Respect,        50
A Thought so mean would my whole Love infect;
Less than your Love I scorn, Sir, to expect.
Let me not live in dull Indiff’rency,
But give me Rage enough to make me die;
For if from you I needs must meet my Fate,        55
Before your Pity, I would choose your Hate.
 
II
A Very Heroical Epistle, in Answer to Ephelia

  MADAM,
IF you’re deceiv’d, it is not by my Cheat,
For all Disguises are below the Great.
What Man or Woman upon Earth can say
I ever used ’em well above a Day?        60
How is it then that I inconstant am?
He changes not, who always is the same.
In my dear Self I center every Thing,
My Servants, Friends, my Mistress, and my King,
Nay, Heav’n and Earth to that one Point I bring.        65
Well mannered, honest, generous, and stout,
Names by dull Fools to plague Mankind found out,
Should I regard, I must myself constrain,
And ’tis my Maxim to avoid all Pain.
You fondly look for what none e’er could find;        70
Deceive yourself, and then call me unkind;
And, by false Reason, would my Falsehood prove,
For ’tis as natural to Change, as Love.
You may as justly at the Sun repine,
Because alike it does not always shine.        75
No glorious Thing was ever made to stay;
My Blazing-Star but visits, and away:
As fatal too it shines, as those i’th’ Skies;
’Tis never seen, but some great Lady dies:
The boasted Favour you so precious hold,        80
To me’s no more than changing of my Gold,
Whate’er you gave, I paid you back in Bliss;
Then where’s the Obligation, pray, of this?
If heretofore you found Grace in my Eyes,
Be thankful for it, and let that suffice;        85
But Women, Beggars like, still haunt the Door,
Where they’ve received a Charity before.
O! happy Sultan! whom we barb’rous call,
How much art thou refined above us all?
Who envies not the Joys of thy Seraglio?        90
Thee, like some God, the trembling crowd adore,
Each Man’s thy Slave, and Woman-kind thy Whore.
Methinks I see thee underneath the Shade
Of golden Canopy supinely laid;
Thy crowding Slaves all silent as the Night,        95
But at thy Nod, all active as the Light;
Secure in solid Sloth, thou there dost reign,
And feel’st the Joys of Love without the Pain.
Each Female courts thee with a wishing Eye,
While thou with awful Pride walk’st careless by,        100
’Till thy kind Pledge at last marks out the Dame
Thou fanciest most, to quench thy present Flame:
Then from thy Bed submissive she retires,
And, thankful for the Grace, no more requires.
No loud Reproach, nor fond unwelcome Sound        105
Of Women’s Tongues thy sacred Ears does wound;
If any do, a nimble Mute straight ties
The True-love Knot, and stops her foolish Cries.
Thou fear’st no injur’d Kinsman’s threat’ning Blade,
Nor Midnight Ambushes by Rivals laid;        110
While here, with aching Hearts our Joys we taste,
Disturbed by Swords, like Democles’s Feast.
 
 
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