Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SOLITARY CANTO TO CHLORIS THE DISDAINFUL, by JOHN SMITH (1662-1717)

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: What a pox do you mean with your pride and ill-nature
Last Line: No, sweet mrs. Chloris—pray excuse me for that.
Alternate Author Name(s): Smyth, John
Subject(s): Seduction

WHAT a pox do you mean with your pride and ill-nature,
Like a jilt to neglect thus your own and God's creature?
You idly mistake the design of a lover:
His bus'ness is action much more than to suffer.
'Tis a barb'rous return, a hellish disdain,
To requite all the pleasure I offer with pain.
Didst thou come of some rough-hewn Northumberland breed,
Wert thou got and brought forth on the banks of far Tweed,
There damned to the yoke and tyrannical rule
Of some jealous old hunks or suspicious young fool,
Yet methinks you might find some expedient or other,
Though you knew nothing of it—to bring us together;
And not thus to let a brisk likely young fellow
To bulk it, or use the hard ground for a pillow.
No, madam, in good faith, I came not to fool here,
Or court, you may guess, the north wind for a cooler:
My bus'ness is—Let me come in, and I warrant
You'll say I know how to deliver my errand.
What a devil, d'y'think I'll stand here like an ass,
And with knuckle lie drumming on pane of small glass,
Or coxcomb that fancies he shrewdly does nick it,
When his passion in sighs he conveys through the wicket?
All th' amorous rout of the curs in the town
Are in loud Irish howl serenading the moon,
But Cynthia the kind condescends to each span'el,
While in pity she graciously shines from the kennel.
Grave owls, night's winged lovers, fly over our head,
And with screaming in churchyards awaken the dead;
But you, cruel nymph, while your grace I'm imploring,
My ditty ne'er mind, but in blanket lie snoring.
Hark! how the winds roar, my misfortunes condoling,
While I lie at your door all the night caterwauling;
And as of complaining soft flute I make trial,
They dolefully whistle in consort through keyhole.
The ground's cased with ice, and the whole street a glass is
For the moon and the stars to behold their bright faces;
The season's so sharp, one would swear the cold reigns
In your blood, and has froze up your heart and your veins,
And like little St. Francis enamoured I grow
Of a damsel of ice or a mistress of snow.
Come, lay by this scorn you so fondly affect,
Your unchristian behaviour, and heath'nish neglect,
Lest the powers of love, their just vengeance to show,
Make you dote on an ass or some nauseous old beau,
Who, to balk and torment you, your court shall decline,
And scorn your addresses, as you have done mine.
Thy mother was courteous before thee, and nature
Entails her good qualities all on the daughter:
No longer then dream on those dull idle fancies
Of honour, ne'er found but in plays and romances,
Nor that Graecian jilt who a fair thread did twist off,
And stood with her sparks at close guard with her distaff.
Have I not set traps, and laid many a gin
With springes to noose you, and catch your heart in?
Ha'nt I wheedled, presented, and offered petitions,
In order to bring you to milder conditions?
Your chambermaid fee'd with my person and money,
To know how your pulse beat, and practise upon ye?
Been religiously drunk at all times and all places,
By spelling your name o'er in stum in beer-glasses?
Besides, what might plague you and touch your heart more near,
Thy spouse now solaces with doxy in corner,
Melodious stage-punk, whose bewitching sweet tongue
Does lewdly seduce his false heart with a song;
And if this one mortifying thought will not win ye,
Nor raise your dull spleen—why the devil is in ye.
In Turkey the wives and Mahometan beauties,
If their husbands neglect to do family duties,
Those heralds of Cupid conclude it but decent
T' ennoble their family's crest with a crescent;
And sure 'tis not fit Christian ladies should want
A freedom that love does to infidels grant.
I've lain down before you already too long,
In hopes I might take you—with fiddle and song;
Then prithee, dear Chloris, be gentle and coming,
While love is in humour and youth is a-blooming.
When age comes 'twill make me too wise to endure
The delays and fatigues of a tedious amour;
Believe me, I ne'er shall have patience hereafter
To stand like a cistern to catch your rain-water,
Nor at your door whimper, bewailing my fate,
While it falls in big drops from the eaves of my hat;
No, sweet Mrs. Chloris—pray excuse me for that.

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