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.
 
The Gascon Punished
By Jean de La Fontaine (1621–1695)
 
(Tales and Novels, 1746)

A GASCON (being heard one day to swear,
That he’d possess’d a certain lovely fair,)
Was played a wily trick, and nicely served;
’Twas clear, from truth he shamefully had swerved.
But those who scandal propagate below,        5
Are prophets thought, and ev’ry action know;
While good, if spoken, scarcely is believed,
And must be viewed, or not for truth received.
 
  The dame, indeed, the Gascon only jeered,
And e’er denied herself when he appeared;        10
But when she met the wight, who sought to shine,
And called her angel, beauteous and divine,
She fled and hastened to a female friend,
Where she could laugh, and at her ease unbend.
 
  Near Phillis, (our fair fugitive) their dwelled        15
One Eurilas, his nearest neighbour held;
His wife was Cloris;—’twas with her our dove
Took shelter from the Gascon’s forward love,
Whose name was Dorilas;—and Damon young,
(The Gascon’s friend) on whom gay Cloris hung.        20
 
  Sweet Phillis, by her manner, you might see,
From sly amours and dark intrigues was free;
The value to possess her no one knew,
Though all admired the lovely belle at view.
Just twenty years she counted at the time,        25
And now a widow was, though in her prime,
(Her spouse, an aged dotard, worth a plum:—
Of those whose loss to mourn no tears e’er come.)
 
  Our seraph fair, such loveliness possessed,
In num’rous ways a Gascon could have blessed;        30
Above, below, appeared angelic charms;
’Twas Paradise, ’twas Heav’n, within her arms!
 
  The Gascon was—a Gascon;—would you more?
Who knows one Gascon knows at least a score.
I need not say what solemn vows he made;        35
Alike with Normans Gascons are portrayed;
Their oaths, indeed, won’t pass for Gospel truth;
But we believe that Dorilas (the youth)
Loved Phillis to his soul, our lady fair,
Yet he would fain be thought successful there.        40
 
  One day, said Phillis, with unusual glee,
Pretending with the Gascon to be free:—
A favour do me:—nothing very great;—
Assist to dupe one jealous of his mate;
You’ll find it very easy to be done,        45
And doubtless ’twill produce a deal of fun.
’Tis our request (the plot you’ll say is deep,)
That you this night with Cloris’s husband sleep
Some disagreement with her gay gallant
Requires, that she a night at least should grant,        50
To settle diff’rences; now we desire,
That you’ll to bed with Eurilas retire,
There’s not a doubt he’ll think his Cloris near;
He never touches her:—so nothing fear;
For whether jealousy, or other pains,        55
He constantly from intercourse abstains,
Snores through the night, and if a cap he sees,
Believes his wife in bed, and feels at ease.
We’ll properly equip you as a belle,
And I will certainly reward you well.        60
 
  To gain but Phillis’s smiles, the Gascon said,
He’d with the very devil go to bed.
 
  The night arrived, our wight the chamber traced;
The lights extinguished; Eurilas, too, placed;
The Gascon ’gan to tremble in a trice,        65
And soon with terror grew as cold as ice;
Durst neither spit nor cough; still less encroach;
And seemed to shrink, least t’other should approach;
Crept near the edge; would scarcely room afford,
And could have passed the scabbard of a sword.        70
 
  Oft in the night his bed-fellow turned round;
At length a finger on his nose he found,
Which Dorilas exceedingly distressed;
But more inquietude was in his breast,
For fear the husband amorous should grow,        75
From which incalculable ills might flow.
 
  Our Gascon ev’ry minute knew alarm;
’Twas now a leg stretched out, and then an arm;
He even thought he felt the husband’s beard;
But presently arrived what more he feared.        80
 
  A bell, conveniently, was near the bed,
Which Eurilas to ring was often led;
At this the Gascon swooned, so great was his fear,
And swore, forever he’d renounce his dear.
But no one coming, Eurilas, once more,        85
Resumed his place, and ’gan again to snore.
 
  At length, before the sun his head had reared,
The door was opened, and a torch appeared.
Misfortune then he fancied full in sight;
More pleased he’d been to rise without a light,        90
And clearly thought, ’twas over with him now;
The flame approached;—the drops ran o’er his brow;
With terror he for pardon humbly prayed:—
You have it, cried a fair: be not dismayed;
’Twas Phillis spoke, who Eurilas’s place        95
Had filled, throughout the night, with wily grace,
And now to Damon and his Cloris flew,
With ridicule the Gascon to pursue;
Recounted all the terrors and affright,
Which Dorilas had felt throughout the night.        100
To mortify still more the silly swain,
And fill his soul with ev’ry poignant pain,
She gave a glimpse of beauties to his view,
And from his presence instantly withdrew.
 
 
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