Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DORIS, by WILLIAM CONGREVE



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DORIS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Doris, a nymph of riper age
Last Line: To shine elsewhere of course.—
Subject(s): Flirtation


DORIS, a nymph of riper age,
Has every grace and art
A wise observer to engage,
Or wound a heedless heart.
Of native blush and rosy dye
Time has her cheek bereft,
Which makes the prudent nymph supply
With paint th' injurious theft.
Her sparkling eyes she still retains,
And teeth in good repair,
And her well-furnished front disdains
To grace with borrowed hair.
Of size, she is not short nor tall,
And does to fat incline
No more than what the French would call
Aimable embonpoint.
Farther her person to disclose
I leave—let it suffice,
She has few faults but what she knows,
And can with skill disguise.
She many lovers has refused,
With many more complied,
Which, like her clothes, when little used
She always lays aside.
She's one who looks with great contempt
On each affected creature,
Whose nicety would seem exempt
From appetites of nature.
She thinks they want or health or sense,
Who want an inclination;
And therefore never takes offence
At him who pleads his passion.
Whom she refuses she treats still
With so much sweet behaviour,
That her refusal, through her skill,
Looks almost like a favour.
Since she this softness can express
To those whom she rejects,
She must be very fond, you'll guess,
Of such whom she affects.
But here our Doris far outgoes
All that her sex have done;
She no regard for custom knows,
Which reason bids her shun.
By reason, her own reason's meant,
Or, if you please, her will:
For when this last is discontent,
The first is served but ill.
Peculiar therefore is her way;
Whether by nature taught,
I shall not undertake to say,
Or by experience bought.
But who o'er-night obtained her grace,
She can next day disown,
And stare upon the strange man's face
As one she ne'er had known.
So well she can the truth disguise,
Such artful wonder frame,
The lover or distrusts his eyes,
Or thinks 'twas all a dream.
Some censure this as lewd and low,
Who are to bounty blind;
For to forget what we bestow
Bespeaks a noble mind.
Doris our thanks nor asks nor needs,
For all her favours done:
From her love flows, as light proceeds
Spontaneous from the sun.
On one or other still her fires
Display their genial force;
And she, like Sol, alone retires
To shine elsewhere of course.—





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