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Poem by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester


The Disabled Debauchee


As some brave admiral, in former war
   Deprived of force, but pressed with courage still,
Two rival fleets appearing from afar,
   Crawls to the top of an adjacent hill;

From whence, with thoughts full of concern, he views
   The wise and daring conduct of the fight,
Whilst each bold action to his mind renews
   His present glory and his past delight;

From his fierce eyes flashes of fire he throws,
   As from black clouds when lightning breaks away;
Transported, thinks himself amidst the foes,
   And absent, yet enjoys the bloody day;

So, when my days of impotence approach,
   And Im by pox and wines unlucky chance
Forced from the pleasing billows of debauch
   On the dull shore of lazy temperance,

My pains at least some respite shall afford
   While I behold the battles you maintain
When fleets of glasses sail about the board,
   From whose broadsides volleys of wit shall rain.

Nor let the sight of honorable scars,
   Which my too forward valor did procure,
Frighten new-listed soldiers from the wars:
   Past joys have more than paid what I endure.

Should any youth (worth being drunk) prove nice,
   And from his fair inviter meanly shrink,
Twill please the ghost of my departed vice
   If, at my counsel, he repent and drink.

Or should some cold-complexioned sot forbid,
   With his dull morals, our bold night-alarms,
Ill fire his blood by telling what I did
   When I was strong and able to bear arms.

Ill tell of whores attacked, their lords at home;
   Bawds quarters beaten up, and fortress won;
Windows demolished, watches overcome;
   And handsome ills by my contrivance done.

Nor shall our love-fits, Chloris, be forgot,
   When each the well-looked linkboy strove t enjoy,
And the best kiss was the deciding lot
   Whether the boy fucked you, or I the boy.

With tales like these I will such thoughts inspire
   As to important mischief shall incline:
Ill make him long some ancient church to fire,
   And fear no lewdness hes called to by wine.

Thus, statesmanlike, Ill saucily impose,
   And safe from action, valiantly advise;
Sheltered in impotence, urge you to blows,
   And being good for nothing else, be wise.



John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester


John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester's other poems:
  1. The Advice
  2. A Song (Phillis, be gentler, I advise)
  3. Epistle
  4. A Song (To this Moment a Rebel)
  5. On the Women about Town


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