Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, STAGE WEDLOCK, by JAMES SMITH (1775-1839)



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STAGE WEDLOCK, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Farren, thalia's dear delight
Last Line: The fleet will be their prison.
Subject(s): Marriage; Weddings; Husbands; Wives


FARREN, Thalia's dear delight,
Can I forget that fatal night
Of grief, unstained by fiction,
(Even now the recollection damps)
When Wroughton led thee to the lamps
In graceful valediction?

This Derby prize by Hymen won,
Again the God made bold to run
Beneath Thalia's steerage;
Sent forth a second Earl to woo,
And captivating Brunton too,
Exalted to the peerage.

Awhile no actress sought his shrine;
When lovely Searle, in Columbine,
Each heart held "cabined, cribbed in:"
Her dark-blue eye, and tresses loose,
Made the whole town dub Mother Goose
Chef-d'oeuvre of Tom Dibdin.

"Hail, feathered Conjuror!" I cried,
"September's dish, Saint Michael's pride,
Theatric gold collector:
I pledge thee, bird, in Circe's cup!" --
But Heathcote, ring in hand, ripped up
The Capitol's protector.

Thrice vanquished thus, on Thespian soil,
Heart-whole awhile, from Cupid's toil
I caught a fleeting furlough;
Gay's Newgate Opera charmed me then,
But Polly sang her requiem when
Fair Bolton changed to Thurlow.

These wounds some substitute might heal;
But what bold mortal bade O'Neil
Renounce her tragic station?
Taste, talent, beauty to trepan --
By Heaven, I wonder how the man
Escaped assassination!

I felt half bent to wing my way
With Werter, on whose table lay
Emilia Galoti:
Stunned, like a skater by a fall,
I saw with unconcern Hughes Ball
Elope with Mercandotti.

'Tis thus that prowling round Love's fold,
Hymen, by sufferance made bold,
(Too bold for one of his age,)
Presumes behind the scenes to go,
Where only Cupid used to show
His mythologic visage.

Would these bold suitors wield the fork,
And dip, as sailors dip for pork,
Or urchins at a barrow,
First come, first take, one would not care:
But pick and choose was never fair
At Eton or at Harrow.

Gain we no safeguard from the laws?
Contains the Marriage Act no clause
To hush Saint Martin's steeple;
To bind the public's daughters sure,
And from stage larceny secure
Us poor play-going people?

No! Eldon, all depends on thee:
Wards of thy Court let heroines be,
Who to stage wealth have risen;
And then, if lovers ladders climb,
Contempt of Court will be their crime,
The Fleet will be their prison.





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