Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
Melesinda’s Misfortune on the Burning of her Smock, 1690
By Thomas Brown (1662–1704)
 
(From Works in Prose and Verse, 1730)

TIRED with business of the day,
Upon her couch supinely lay
Fair Melesinda void of care,
No living creature being near:
When straight a calm and gentle sleep        5
Did o’er her drowsy eyelids creep;
Her senses thus by fetters tied,
By nimble fancy were supplied:
Her quick imagination brought
The ideas of her waking thought;        10
She dreamt herself a new-made bride
In bed, by young Philander’s side:
The posset’s eat, the stocking thrown,
And all the company’s withdrawn;
And now the blest Elysium,        15
Of all her wished for joys, is come.
Philander, all dissolved in charms,
Lies raptured in her circling arms,
With panting breasts and swimming eyes
She meets the visionary joys;        20
In all the amorous postures love,
Which height of ecstasy could move;
But as she roving did advance
Her trembling legs, O dire mischance!
The couch being near the fireside,        25
She expanded them, alas! too wide:
She exposed her nethermost attire
Unto the embraces of the fire;
So the chaste Phœnix of the East
With fluttering, fires her spicy nest.        30
So Semele embracing Jove,
Burnt with fire and with love.
The flames at first did trembling seize
The dangling hem of the lost prize;
But finding no resistance, higher        35
As ’tis their nature to aspire,
Approaching near the seat of bliss,
The centre of earthly happiness,
Which vastly more of pleasure yields,
Than all the feigned Elysian fields.
*        *        *        *        *
        40
At last the flames were grown so rude,
They boldly everywhere intrude;
They soon recalled the lady’s sense,
And chased the pleasing vision thence:
Soon as her eyes recovered light,        45
She straight beheld, the dismal sight.
*        *        *        *        *
Then viewing of her half-burnt smock,
Thus to herself the sad nymph spoke:
“Is this the effect of dreams? Is this
The fruit of all my fancy’s bliss?        50
Misfortunes will, I see, betide,
When maidens throw their legs too wide:
Had I but kept my legs across,
I and my smock had had no loss:
I ought, I’m sure, to have took more heed,        55
For ne’er had virgin greater need:
My kindness and my little care
Has left me scarce a smock to wear.
*        *        *        *        *
But I could bear the loss of them
Had not the fire disturbed my dream.
*        *        *        *        *
        60
Ah! cruel flames, you’re too unkind
To bring these fancies to my mind:
Down, down into your native cell
In your own blazing regions dwell:
Vex me no more, let me possess        65
My linen, or my dream in peace.”
Thus the poor nymph, bewailed her treacherous luck,
At once to lose so good a dream and smock.
 
 
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