Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
A Better Answer
By Matthew Prior (1664–1721)
 
DEAR 1 Chloe, how blubbered is that pretty face!
  Thy cheek all on fire, and thy hair all uncurled:
Pr’ythee quit this caprice; and (as old Falstaff says)
  Let us e’en talk a little like folks of this world.
 
How can’st thou presume, thou hast leave to destroy        5
  The beauties, which Venus but lent to thy keeping?
Those looks were designed to inspire love and joy:
  More ordinary eyes may serve people for weeping.
 
To be vexed at a trifle or two that I writ,
  Your judgment at once, and my passion you wrong:        10
You take that for fact, which will scarce be found wit:
  Od’s life! must one swear to the truth of a song?
 
What I speak, my fair Chloe, and what I write, shews
  The difference there is betwixt nature and art:
I court others in verse; but I love thee in prose:        15
  And they have my whimsies; but thou hast my heart.
 
The god of us verse-men (you know Child) the sun,
  How after his journeys he sets up his rest:
If at morning o’er earth ’tis his fancy to run;
  At night he reclines on his Thetis’s breast.        20
 
So when I am wearied with wandering all day;
  To thee, my delight, in the evening I come:
No matter what beauties I saw in my way:
  They were but my visits, but thou art my home.
 
Then finish, dear Chloe, this pastoral war;        25
  And let us like Horace and Lydia agree:
For thou art a girl as much brighter than her,
  As he was a poet sublimer than me.
 
Note 1. ‘A Better Answer,’ i.e., than the ‘Answer to Chloe jealous,’ which usually precedes it. [back]
 
 
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