Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN ANSWER TO A SCANDALOUS POEM, by JONATHAN SWIFT



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

AN ANSWER TO A SCANDALOUS POEM, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Presumptuous bard! How could you dare
Last Line: But such comparisons are odious.


Presumptuous bard! How could you dare
A woman with a cloud compare?
Strange pride and insolence you show,
Inferior mortals there below.
And, is our thunder in your ears
So frequent or so loud as theirs?
Alas! our thunder soon goes out;
And only makes you more devout.
Then, is not female clatter worse,
That drives you, not to pray, but curse?
We hardly thunder thrice a year;
The bolt discharged, the sky grows clear:
But, every sublunary dowdy,
The more she scolds, the more she's cloudy.
Some critic may object, perhaps,
That clouds are blamed for giving claps;
But, what alas are claps ethereal,
Compared for mischief, to venereal?
Can clouds give buboes, ulcers, blotches,
Or from your nose dig out the notches?
We leave the body sweet and sound;
We kill, 'tis true, but never wound.
You know a cloudy sky bespeaks
Fair weather, when the morning breaks;
But, women in a cloudy plight,
Foretell a storm to last till night.
A cloud, in proper seasons pours
His blessings down in fruitful showers;
But, woman was by fate designed
To pour down curses on mankind.
When Sirius o'er the welkin rages
Our kindly help his fire assuages;
But woman is a cursed inflamer,
No parish ducking-stool can tame her:
To kindle strife, Dame Nature taught her:
Like fireworks, she can burn in water.
For fickleness how durst you blame us?
Who for our constancy are famous.
You'll see a cloud in gentle weather
Keep the same face an hour together:
While women, if it could be reckoned,
Change every feature, every second.
Observe our figure in a morning;
Of foul and fair we give you warning;
But, can you guess from woman's air,
One minute, whether foul or fair?
Go read in ancient books enrolled,
What honours we possessed of old!
To disappoint Ixion's rape,
Jove dressed a cloud in Juno's shape:
Which when he had enjoyed, he swore
No goddess could have pleased him more,
No difference could he find between
His cloud, and Jove's imperial queen:
His cloud produced a race of centaurs,
Famed for a thousand bold adventures;
From us descended ab origine;
By learned authors called nubigenae.
But say, what earthly nymph do you know,
So beautiful to pass for Juno?
Before Aeneas durst aspire
To court her Majesty of Tyre,
His mother begged of us to dress him,
That Dido might the more caress him:
A coat we gave him, dyed in grain;
A flaxen wig, and clouded cane.
(The wig was powdered round with sleet,
Which fell in clouds beneath his feet)
With which he made a tearing show:
And Dido quickly smoked the beau.
Among your females make inquiries;
What nymph on earth so fair as Iris?
With heavenly beauty so endowed?
And yet her father is a cloud.
We dressed her in a gold brocade,
Befitting Juno's favourite maid.
'Tis known, that Socrates the wise,
Adored us clouds as deities;
To us he made his daily prayers,
As Aristophanes declares:
From Jupiter took all dominion,
And died defending his opinion.
By his authority, 'tis plain
You worship other gods in vain:
And from your own experience know,
We govern all things there below.
You follow where we please to guide;
O'er all your passions we preside;
Can raise them up, or sink them down,
As we think fit to smile or frown:
And, just as we dispose your brain,
Are witty, dull, rejoice, complain.
Compare us then to female race!
We, to whom all the gods give place:
Who better challenge your allegiance,
Because we dwell in higher regions:
You find, the gods in Homer dwell,
In seas, and streams, or low as hell:
Ev'n Jove, and Mercury his pimp,
No higher climb than Mount Olymp,
(Who makes you think, the clouds he pierces:
He pierce the clouds! He kiss their arses.)
While we, o'er Teneriffa placed,
Are loftier by a mile at least:
And when Apollo struts on Pindus,
We see him from our kitchen-windows:
Or, to Parnassus looking down,
Can piss upon his laurel crown.
Fate never formed the gods to fly;
In vehicles they mount the sky:
When Jove would some fair nymph inveigle,
He comes full gallop on his eagle.
Though Venus be as light as air,
She must have doves to draw her chair.
Apollo stirs not out of door,
Without his lacquered coach and four,
And, jealous Juno, ever snarling,
Is drawn by peacocks in her berlin:
But, we can fly where'er we please,
O'er cities, rivers, hills, and seas:
From east to west, the world we roam;
And, in all climates are at home;
With care provide you as we go,
With sunshine, rain, and hail, or snow.
You, when it rains, like fools believe,
Jove pisses on you through a sieve;
An idle tale, 'tis no such matter;
We only dip a sponge in water;
Then, squeeze it close between our thumbs,
And shake it well, and down it comes.
As you shall to your sorrow know;
We'll watch your steps where'er you go:
And since we find, you walk afoot
We'll soundly souse your frieze surtout.
'Tis but by our peculiar grace,
That Phoebus ever shows his face:
For, when we please, we open wide
Our curtains blue, from side to side:
And then, how saucily he shows
His brazen face, and fiery nose:
And gives himself a haughty air,
As if he made the weather fair.
'Tis sung, wherever Celia treads,
The violets ope their purple heads;
The roses blow, the cowslip springs;
'Tis sung, but we know better things.
'Tis true; a woman on her mettle,
Will often piss upon a nettle;
But, though we own, she makes it wetter,
The nettle never thrives the better;
While we, by soft prolific showers,
Can every spring produce you flowers.
Your poets, Chloe's beauty heightening,
Compare her radiant eyes to lightning;
And yet, I hope, 'twill be allowed,
That lightning comes but from a cloud.
But, gods like us, have too much sense
At poets' flights to take offence.
Nor can hyperboles demean us;
Each drab has been compared to Venus.
We own, your verses are melodious;
But such comparisons are odious.





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