Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Mistress
By John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647–1680)
 
AN AGE, in her embraces past,
  Would seem a winter’s day;
Where life and light, with envious haste,
  Are torn and snatched away.
 
But, oh! how slowly minutes roll,        5
  When absent from her eyes;
That fed my love, which is my soul,
  It languishes and dies.
 
For then, no more a soul but shade,
  It mournfully does move;        10
And haunts my breast, by absence made
  The living tomb of love.
 
You wiser men despise me not;
  Whose love-sick fancy raves,
On shades of souls, and heaven knows what:        15
  Short ages live in graves.
 
Whene’er those wounding eyes, so full
  Of sweetness you did see,
Had you not been profoundly dull,
  You had gone mad like me.        20
 
Nor censure us, you who perceive
  My best-belov’d and me,
Sigh and lament, complain and grieve,
  You think we disagree.
 
Alas! ’tis sacred jealousy,        25
  Love raised to an extreme;
The only proof, ’twixt them and me,
  We love, and do not dream.
 
Fantastic fancies fondly move,
  And in frail joys believe:        30
Taking false pleasure for true love;
  But pain can ne’er deceive.
 
Kind jealous doubts, tormenting fears,
  And anxious cares, when past,
Prove our heart’s treasure fixed and déar,        35
  And make us bless’d at last.
 
 
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