Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPISTLE TO CLEMENA. OCCASIONED BY AN ARGUMENT AGAINST THE AUTHOR, by ELIZABETH THOMAS



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EPISTLE TO CLEMENA. OCCASIONED BY AN ARGUMENT AGAINST THE AUTHOR, by            
First Line: Though you my resolution still accuse / and for misanthropy condemn the muse
Last Line: But harder yet an honest man to choose.
Subject(s): Fidelity; Marriage; Women; Faithfulness; Constancy; Weddings; Husbands; Wives


THOUGH you my resolution still accuse,
And for misanthropy condemn the Muse,
Still finding fault with what I most commend,
And lose good humour in the name of friend:
Yet if these pettish heats you lay aside,
And by calm reason let the cause be tried,
I make no question but it would appear
You had no cause to boast, nor I to fear.

For when two bind themselves in marriage bands,
Fidelity in each, the Church commands:
Equal's the contract, equal are the vows,
Yet Custom different licences allows:
The man may range from his unhappy wife,
But woman's made a property for life.
To no dear friend the grief may be revealed,
No, she, poor soul, must keep her shame concealed:
And, to the height of doting folly grown,
Believe her husband's character her own.

So have I seen a lovely beauteous maid,
By duty forced, by interest betrayed,
Resign herself into Nefario's arms,
And make the sordid wretch sole master of her charms.
With seeming transport he the bliss receives,
With seeming gratitude rich presents gives:
The finest brillants through the town are sought,
The costliest liveries for her servants bought;
The richest tissues for herself to wear,
And nothing that she liked could purchased be too dear.
But ere the sun his annual course had run,
Or thrice three moons with borrowed lustre shone,
The libertine resumed his brutal life:
Oh! then how nauseous grew the name of wife.
Her conversation and her charms were stale,
Nor wit and beauty longer could prevail:
The night he turned to day, the day to night,
Yet still uneasy in Aminta's sight.

At two, perhaps, he condescends to rise,
Fetches a yawn or two, and rubs his eyes:
'Run, run,' cries he, 'to Captain Hackum's straight,
And tell the rakes I for their coming wait;
Be sure you bring the dogs, and hark, d'ye hear,
Bid Tom the butler in my sight appear.'

The hungry bravoes to their patron run,
And wonder that his levee is so soon:
'Bless me,' says one, 'how well you look today!'
T' other replies, 'Ay, he may well look gay,
When wine and women pass his time away.
While business other mortals' peace destroys,
He gives his soul a nobler loose to joys.'
'Enough,' Nefario cries, 'sit down, my friends,
See where the sparkling burgundy attends.
This wine was sent from France but t' other day,
And never yet in vintner's cellar lay.'

Set in for drinking thus, they each recite
The wonderful achievements of the night.
One tells how he did Phillis serenade,
Fought with the watch, and made them run afraid;
While t' other shrugging cries, 'I changed my bed,
And was in triumph to the counter led.
But if the town does canes enough afford,
I'll drub that rascal where I bought my sword.'

Sated at last with fulsome lies and wine,
Nefario swears aloud, ''Tis dinner-time.'
Aminta's called, and calmly down they sit,
But she not one poor word or look can get.
'This meat's too salt, t' other's too fresh,' he cries,
And from the table in a passion flies:
Not that his cook is faulty in the least,
But 'tis the wife that palls his squeamish taste.

Well, after having ransacked park and play,
He with some hackney vizor sneaks away
To famed Pontack's, or noted Monsieur Locket's,
Where Mrs. Jilt as fairly picks his pockets.
Thus bubbled, in revenge he walks his round,
From loft three stories high to cellar underground;
Scours all the streets, some brother rake doth fight,
And with a broken pate concludes the night.
Or in some tavern with the gaming crew,
He drinks, and swears, and plays, till day doth night pursue.

Meanwhile Aminta for his stay doth mourn,
And sends up pious vows for his return;
Fears some mishap, looks out at every noise,
And thinks each breath of wind her dear Nefario's voice.
At last the clock strikes five, and home he comes,
And kicks the spaniel servants through the rooms,
Till he the lovely pensive fair doth spy,
Nor can she 'scape the sordid tyranny:
A thousand brutish names to her he gives,
Which she poor lady patiently receives;
A thousand imprecations doth bestow,
And scarcely can refrain to give th' impending blow.
Till tired with rage, and overcome with wine,
Dead drunk he falls, and snoring lies supine.

Wretched Nefario no repentance shows,
But mocks those ills Aminta undergoes:
Ruined by him, with pain she draws her breath,
And still survives an evil worse than death.

Ah, friend! in these depraved, unhappy times,
When vice walks barefaced, virtues pass for crimes:
Many Nefarios must we think to find,
Though not so bad as this, yet villains in their kind.
Hard is that venture where our all we lose;
But harder yet an honest man to choose.





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