by: William Wycherley (1641-1715)

      OW you the vigorous, who daily here
      O'er vizard-mask in public domineer,
      And what you'd do to her, if in place where:
      Nay, have the confidence to cry, Come out!
      Yet, when she say, Lead on! you are not stout;
      But to your well-dress'd brother straight turn round,
      And cry, Pox on her, Ned, she can't be sound!
      Then slink away, a fresh one to engage,
      With so much seeming heat and loving rage,
      You'd frighten listening actress on the stage;
      Till she at last has seen you puffing come,
      And talk of keeping in the tiring-room,
      Yet cannot be provoked to lead her home.
      Next, you Falstaffs of fifty, who beset
      Your buckram maidenheads, which your friends get;
      And whilst to them you of achievements boast,
      They share the booty, and laugh at your cost.
      In fine, you essenced boys, both old and young,
      Who would be thought so eager, brisk, and strong,
      Yet do the ladies, not their husbands wrong;
      Whose purses for your manhood make excuse,
      And keep your Flander's mares for show not use;
      Encouraged by our woman's man to-day,
      A Horner's part may vainly think to play:
      And may intrigues so bashfully disown,
      That they may doubted be by few or none;
      May kiss the cards at picquet, ombre, too,
      And so be taught to kiss the lady too;
      But, gallants, have a care, faith, what you do.
      The world, which to no man his due will give,
      You by experience know you can deceive,
      And men may still believe you vigorous,
      But then we women--there's no cozening us.

"Epilogue to 'The Country Wife'" is reprinted from Poetica Erotica. Ed. T.R. Smith. New York: Crown Publishers, 1921.




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