Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPILOGUE, by FRANCES TALBOT



Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

EPILOGUE, by            
First Line: And must I then -- the fatal knot once tied
Last Line: To crown our triumph as the curtain falls.
Alternate Author Name(s): Morley, Countess Of
Subject(s): Marriage; Women; Women's Rights; Weddings; Husbands; Wives; Feminism


And must I then—the fatal knot once tied—
Become the meek, submissive, pattern bride?
Forego the short-lived triumph of my sex,
Renounce the glorious privilege to vex—
To tease the teaser—to befool the wise,
And o'er the future tyrant—tyrannize?
Why—for the brief dominion of an hour
Should fate accord us weapons of such power?
Eyes darting fire—legions of conquering graces—
Squadrons of charms:—look, heroes, in our faces
And own yourselves the humblest of our slaves.
You smile assent—but you're such treacherous knaves,
There's something in your very smiles would say,
"We have our safety in the word—obey";
But if you hold us by this legal tether,
And fancy love and law can go together,
We may contrive such galling chains to loose,
And when you least expect it—slip the noose.
(Aside.) A friendly hint, dear ladies, in your ear,
Which, if you'll follow (husbands must not hear),
You still may rule them with despotic sway:
Always—in trifles—let them have their way.
On soups and entrées—bow to their opinion;
O'er dogs and horses—grant them full dominion;
Protest you think their arguments so clever
On game and corn-laws—you're convinced for ever.
Give them in politics no molestation,
But whilst you rule them—let them rule the nation.
Your tyrant thus deceived becomes your tool,
Still, though you rule him, never show you rule:
Rivals in love they naturally hate—
Rivals in power they cannot tolerate.
Who calls to order? How am I transgressing?
The ladies only, sir, I was addressing.
I see you tremble lest I go too far,
Encouraging revolt and civil war—
The fearful fruits of our emancipation—
Allow me then a word in explanation.
I dread, like you, reforms and revolutions,
'Tis to support established institutions,
As ancient as the siege of Troy, I speak—
The great Atrides was a Jerry Sneak.
Nay, I could cite, but that I dread to bore ye,
Examples without end from ancient story,
Occurrences as old as the creation,
Proving the rule of man—the innovation.
(Aside.) (But am I wise and prudent—on reflection—
Suing for public favour and protection,
One half my audience thus by taunts provoking.)
Believe me, gentlemen, I am only joking.
You know too well—howe'er we scorn and flout you,
We had all rather die than live without you.
Your praise we covet—your applause we prize,
E'en "as the light that visits these bright eyes."
Nay, I—with all my airs of domination
Claim at your hands one clap of approbation.
Be generous then, exceed the boon I ask,
And if you deem we well have done our task,
Let cheers and bravos echo from the walls,
To crown our triumph as the curtain falls.





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