Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, UPON AN HERMAPHRODITE, by JOHN CLEVELAND

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UPON AN HERMAPHRODITE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sir, or madam, choose you whether!
Last Line: Coining thee a philip and mary.
Subject(s): Sex

SIR, or Madam, choose you whether!
Nature twists you both together
And makes thy soul two garbs confess,
Both petticoat and breeches dress.
Thus we chastise the God of Wine
With water that is feminine,
Until the cooler nymph abate
His wrath, and so concorporate.
Adam, till his rib was lost,
Had both sexes thus engrossed.
When Providence our Sire did cleave,
And out of Adam carved Eve,
Then did man 'bout wedlock treat,
To make his body up complete.
Thus matrimony speaks but thee
In a grave solemnity.
For man and wife make but one right
Canonical hermaphrodite.
Ravel thy body, and I find
In every limb a double kind.
Who would not think that head a pair
That breeds such factions in the hair?
One half so churlish in the touch
That, rather than endure so much
I would my tender limbs apparel
In Regulus's nailed barrel:
But the other half so small,
And so amorous withal,
That Cupid thinks each hair doth grow
A string for his invis'ble bow.
When I look babies in thine eyes
Here Venus, there Adonis, lies.
And though thy beauty be high noon
Thy orb contains both sun and moon.
How many melting kisses skip
'Twixt thy male and female lip --
Twixt thy upper brush of hair
And thy nether beard's despair?
When thou speak'st (I would not wrong
Thy sweetness with a double tongue)
But in every single sound
A perfect dialogue is found.
Thy breasts distinguish one another,
This the sister, that the brother.
When thou join'st hands my ear still fancies
The nuptial sound, 'I, John, take Frances.'
Feel but the difference soft and rough;
This is a gauntlet, that a muff.
Had sly Ulysses, at the sack
Of Troy, brought thee his pedlar's pack,
And weapons too, to know Achilles
From King Lycomedes' Phillis,
His plot had failed; this hand would feel
The needle, that the warlike steel.
When music doth thy pace advance,
Thy right leg takes the left to dance.
Nor is 't a galliard danced by one,
But a mixed dance, though alone.
Thus every heteroclite part
Changes gender but thy heart.
Nay those, which modesty can mean
But dare not speak, are epicene.
That gamester needs must overcome
That can play both Tib and Tom.
Thus did Nature's mintage vary,
Coining thee a Philip and Mary.

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