Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LOVER: A BALLAD, by MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU

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THE LOVER: A BALLAD, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: At length, by so much importunity pressed
Last Line: Wo harden like trees, and like rivers grow cold.
Alternate Author Name(s): Montagu, Mary Wortley; Pierrepont, Mary
Subject(s): Congreve, William (1670-1729); Love


AT length, by so much importunity pressed,
Take, Congreve, at once the inside of my breast.
The stupid indifference so often you blame,
Is not owing to nature, to fear, or to shame;
I am not as cold as a virgin in lead,
Nor is Sunday's sermon so strong in my head;
I know but too well how old 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.
O! was there a man--but where shall I find
Good sense and good nature so equally joined!--
Would value his pleasures, contribute to mine;
Not meanly would boast, and not grossly design;
Not over severe, yet not stupidly vain,
For I would have the power, but not give the pain.

No pedant, yet learned; no rakey-hell gay,
Or laughing, because he has nothing to say;
To all my whole sex obliging and free,
Yet never be loving to any but me;
In public preserve the decorum that's just,
And show in his eye he is true to his trust;
Then rarely approach, and respectfully bow,
But not fulsomely forward, or foppishly low.

But when the long hours of public are past,
And we meet with champagne and a chicken at last,
May every fond pleasure the moment endear;
Be banished afar both discretion and fear!
Forgetting or scorning the aim 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.
For 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 lived chaste, I will keep myself so.

I never will share 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 mere rake, the dressed fopling despise;
Before such pursuers the chaste virgin flies:
And as Ovid so sweetly in parable told,
Wo harden like trees, and like rivers grow cold.

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