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Poem by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester


Could I but make my wishes insolent,
And force some image of a false content!
But they, like me, bashful and humble grown,
Hover at distance about beauty's throne;
There worship and admire, and then they die
Daring no more lay hold of her than I.
     Reason to worth bears a submissive spirit,
But fools can be familiar with merit.
Who but that blundering blockhead Phaëthon
Could e'er have thought to drive about the sun?
Just such another durst make love to you
Whom not ambition led, but dullness drew.
No amorous thought could his dull heart incline,
But he would have a passion, for 'twas fine!
That, a new suit, and what he next must say
Runs in his idle head the livelong day.
     Hard-hearted saint! since 'tis your will to be
So unrelenting pitiless to me,
Regardless of a love so many years
Preserved 'twixt lingering hopes and awful fears
(Such fears in lovers' breasts high value claims,
And such expiring martyrs feel in flames;
My hopes yourself contrived, with cruel care,
Through gentle smiles to lead me to despair),
ТTis some relief in my extreme distress,
My rival is below your power to bless.

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester's other poems:
  1. The Disabled Debauchee
  2. Grecian Kindness
  3. The Advice
  4. Upon his Leaving his Mistress
  5. Against Constancy

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