THE LOVER: A BALLAD
by: Lady Mary Wortley Montague
- T length, by so much importunity
- Take, Congreve, at once, the inside of my breast:
- This stupid indiff'rence so often you blame,
- Is not owing to nature, to fear, or to shame.
- I am not so cold as a virgin in lead,
- Nor is Sunday's sermon so strong in my head:
- I know but too well how time flies along,
- That we live but few years, and yet fewer are young.
- But I hate to be cheated, and never will buy
- Long years of repentance for moments of joy.
- Oh, was there a man (but where shall I find
- Good-sense and good-nature so equally joined?)
- Would value his pleasure, contribute to mine;
- Not meanly would boast, nor would lewdly design,
- Nor over severe, yet not stupidly vain,
- For I would have the power, tho' not give the pain.
- No pedant, yet learned; nor rake-helly gay,
- Or laughing, because he has nothing to say;
- To all my whole sex obliging and free,
- Yet ne'er be he fond of any but me;
- In public preserve the decorum that's just,
- And shew in his eyes he is true to his trust;
- Then rarely approach, and respectfully bow,
- But not fulsomely pert, or foppishly low.
- But when the long hours of public are past,
- And we meet with champagne and a chicken at last,
- May ev'ry fond pleasure that moment endear;
- Be banish'd afar both discretion and fear!
- Forgetting or scorning the airs of the crowd,
- He may cease to be formal, and I to be proud,
- Till lost in the joy, we confess that we live,
- And he may be rude, and yet I may forgive.
- And that my delight may be solidly fixed,
- Let the friend and the lover be handsomely mixed,
- In whose tender bosom my soul may confide,
- Whose kindness can soothe me, whose counsel can guide,
- From such a dear lover as here I describe,
- No danger should fright me, no millions should bribe;
- But till this astonishing creature I know
- As I long have liv'd chaste, I will keep myself so.
- I never will stare with the wanton coquet,
- Or be caught by a vain affectation of wit.
- The toasters and songsters may try all their art,
- But never shall enter the pass of my heart.
- I loathe the lewd rake, the dress'd fopling despise:
- Before such pursuers the nice virgin flies:
- And as Ovid has sweetly in parables told,
- We harden like trees, and like rivers grow cold.
MORE POEMS BY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGUE
"The Lover: a Ballad"
is reprinted from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New
York: Crown Publishers, 1921.