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.
 
Merrie Ballad of Nash, His Dildo
By Thomas Nashe (1567–1601)
 
(1601; Rawlinson MS. Poet. 216, leaves 96–106; also Petyt MS. (Inner Temple), 538, Vol. 43, f. viii, 295b)—hitherto unpublished: dedicated in Petyt MS. “To the right Honorable the Lord S[outhampton]”)

 Pardon, sweet flower of Matchless poesy,
  and fairest bud that ever red rose bare,
  although my muse, divert from deepest care,
  presents you with a wanton elegy.
Nay blame my verse of loose inchastity,
  for painting forth the things that hidden be,
  only induced with variety,
  sith most men mark what I in speech descrie.
Complaints and praises every man can write,
  and passion forth there love in stately rhyme;
  but of love’s pleasure none did e’er indite,
  that have succeeded in this latter time.
  
Accept of it, dear love, in gentle part,
  and better far, ere large, shall honor thee.

NASH’S DILDO

IT was the merry month of February,
When young men in their bravery,
Rose in the morning, before break of day,
To seek their valentines so fresh and gay.
With whom they may consort in Summer’s shene,        5
And dance the high degree in our town green:
And also at Easter, and at Penticost,
Perambulate the fields that flourish most:
And go into some village bordering near,
To taste the Cakes and cream and such good cheer,        10
To see a play of strange morality,
Chosen by the bachelours of magnaminity,
Whither our Country Franklins flockmeal swarm,
And John and Joan come marching arm in arm,
Even on the Hallowes of that blessed Saint,        15
That doth true lovers with those joys acquaint,
I went, poor pilgrim, to my Lady’s shrine,
To see if she would be my Valentine.
But out, alas, she was not to be found,
For she was shifted to another ground:        20
Good Justice Dudgeon, with his crabbed face,
With bills and staves had scared her from that place:
And she poor wench, compelled for sanctuary
To fly into a house of Venery.
Thither went I, and boldly made inquire        25
If they had hackneys to let out to hire,
And what they craved by order of their trade,
To let me ride a journey on a jade.
With that, stept forth a foggy three-chinned dame,
That used to take young wenches for to tame,        30
And asked me, if soothe were my request,
Or only mouth a question but in jest?
 
“In jest,” quoth I, “that term it as you will,
I come for game; therefore give me my Jill.”
“If that it be,” quoth she, “that you demand,        35
Then give me first a godes peny in my hand;
For in our oratory, siccarly,
None enters in, to do his devory,
But he must pay his affidavit first,
And then perhaps Ile ease him of his thirst.”        40
I, seeing her so earnest for the box,
I gave her her due, and she the door unlocks.
 
Now I am entered, sweet Venus be my speed!
But where’s the female that must do the deed?
Through blind meanders, and through crooked ways.        45
She leads me onward, as my author says,
Until I came unto a shady loft
Where Venus bouncing vestures skirmish fought.
And there she set me in a Leather chair,
And brought me forth, of wenches, straight a pair,        50
And bade me choose which might content my eye;
But she I sought, I could no way espy.
I spake her fair, and wished her well to fare,
“But so it is, I must have fresher ware;
Wherefore, dame based, so dainty as you be,        55
Fetch gentle Mistress Frances unto me.”
“By Holy Dame,” quoth she, “and God’s one mother
I well perceive you are a wily brother;
For if there be a morcell of better price,
You’ll find it out, though I be now so nice.        60
As you desire, so shall you swive with her;
But look, your purse-strings shall abide it dear;
For he who’ll feed on quails, must lavish crowns,
And Mistress Frances, in her velvet gowns,
Her ruff and perriwig so fresh as May,        65
Cannot be kept for half a crown a day.”
 
“Of price, good hostess, we will not debate,
Although you assize me at the highest rate;
Only conduct me to this bonny belle,
And ten good goblets unto thee I’ll tell,        70
Of gold or silver, which shall like you best,
So much I do her company request.”
Away she went, so sweet a word is gold,
It makes invasion in the strongest hold;
Lo, here she comes that hath my heart in keeping,        75
Sing lullaby, my cares and fall a sleeping.
Sweeping she comes, as she would brush the ground:
Her ratling silk my senses do confound:
Away I am ravished: “void the chamber straight,
I must be straight upon her with my weight.”        80
“My Tomalyn,” quoth she, and then she smiled:
“I, I,” quoth I, “So more men are beguiled
With sighs and flattering words and tears,
When in your deeds much falsehood still appears.”
“As how, my Tomalyn,” blushing she replied,        85
“Because I in this dauncing 1 should abide?
If that be it that breeds thy discontent,
We will remove the camp incontinent:
For shelter only, sweet heart, came I hither,
And to avoid the troublesome stormy weather;        90
And since the coast is clear, I will be gone,
For, but thy self, true lovers I have none.”
 
With that she sprung full lightly to my lips,
And about my neck she hugs, she culls, she clips,
She wanton faines, and falls upon the bed,        95
And often tosses to and fro her head;
She shakes her feet, and waggles with her tongue:
Oh, who is able to forbear so long?
“I come, I come, sweet Lady, by thy leave”;
Softly my fingers up the curtains heave,        100
And send me happy stealing by degrees,
First unto the feet, and then unto the knees,
And so ascend unto her manly thigh—
A pox on lingering, when I come so nigh!
Smock, climb apace, that I may see my joys,        105
All earthly pleasures seem to this but toys,
Compared be these delights which I behold,
Which well might keep a man from being old.
A pretty rising womb without a wenn,
That shine[s] as bright as any crystal gem,        110
And bears out like the rising of a hill,
At whose decline the[re] runs a fountain still,
That hath her mouth beset with rugged briers,
Resembling much a dusky net of wires:
A lusty buttock, barred with azure veins,        115
Whose comely swelling, when my hand restrains,
Or harmless checketh with a wanton grip,
It makes the fruit thereof too soon be ripe,
A pleasure plucked too timely from his spring
It is, dies e’re it can enjoy the used thing.        120
O Gods, that ever any thing so sweet,
So suddenly should fade away, and fleet!
Her arms and legs and all were spread,
But I was all unarmed,
Like one that Ovid’s cursed hemlock charmed,        125
(So are my Limbs unwieldly for the fight,)
That spent there strength in thought of your delight.
 
What shall I do, to shew myself a man?
It will not be, for ought that beauty can:
I kiss, I clip, I winch, I feel at will,        130
Yet lies he dead, not feeling good or ill.
“By Holy dame (quoth she), and wilt not stand?
Now let me roll and rub it in my hand!
Perhaps the silly worm hath laboured sore,
And worked so that it can do no more:        135
Which if it be, as I do greatly dread,
I wish ten thousand times that I were dead.
What ere it be, no means shall lack in me,
That may avail for his recovery.”
Which said, she took and rolled it on her thigh,        140
And looking down on it, did groan and sigh;
She handled it, and danced it up and down,
Not ceasing till she raised it from (the swoune);
And then it flew on her as it were wood,
And on her breech laboured and foam’d a good;        145
He rubbed and pierced her ever to the bone,
Digging as deep as he could dig for stones;
Now high, now low, now striking short and thick,
And diving deeper, pierced her to the quick;
Now with a gird he would his course rebate,        150
Then would he take him to a stately gate.
Play when he list, and thrust he nere so hard,
Poor patient Grissell lyeth at his ward,
And gives and takes as blith and fresh as May,
And ever meets him in the middle of the way.        155
On her his eyes continually were fixt;
With his eye-brows, her melting eyes were mixt,
Which, like the sun, betwixt two glasses plays,
From the one to the other casting rebounding rays.
She like a star, that, to requite his beams,        160
Sucks the influence of sweet Phoebus streams,
In bathes the beams of his descending light
In the deepest fountains of the purest light.
She, fair as fairest planet in the sky,
But purity to no man doth deny;        165
The very chamber that includes her shine,
Seems as the palace of the gods divine,
Who leads the day about the Zodiack,
And in the even, sets of the ocean lake;
So fierce and fervent in her radiance,        170
Such flying breath she darts at every glance
As might inflame the very napp of age,
And cause pale death him suddenly t’assuage,
And stand and gaze upon those orient lamps,
Where Cupid all his joys incamps.        175
(And sits and plays with every atomie
That in her Sun-beams swarm abundantly.)
Thus striking, thus gazing, we persevere:
But nought so sure that will continue ever:
“Fleet not so fast,” my ravished senses cries,        180
“Since my Content upon thy life relies,
Which brought so soon from his delightful seats,
Me, unawares, of blissful hope defeats;
(Together let our equal motion stir,
Together let us live and die, my dear;)        185
Together let us march with one content
And be consum[e]d without languishment.”
As she prescribed, so keep we clock and time,
And every stroke in order like a chime,
So she that here preferred me by her pity,        190
Unto our music fram’d a groaning ditty:
“Alas, alas, that love should be a sin!
Even now my joys and sorrows do begin;
Hold wide thy lap, my lovely Danae,
And entertain this golden showery sea,        195
That drisling fall[s] into thy treasury:”
Sweet April flowers not half so pleasant be,
Nor Nilus overflowing Egypt plain,
As in the balm that all her womb destreyn.
“Now, oh now,” she trickling moves her lips,        200
And often to and fro she lightly starts and skips:
She jerks her legs, and fresketh with her heels:
No tongue can tell the pleasures that she feels.
“I come, I come, sweet death, rock me a-sleep!
Sleep, sleep, desire, intomb me in the deep!”        205
“Not so, my dear and dearest,” she replied:
“From us two [? sweet] this pleasure must not glide,
Until the sinnewy Chambers of our blood
Withhold themselves from this new prisoned flood;
And then we will, that then will come so soon,        210
Dissolved lie, as though our days were done.”
 
The whilest I speak, my soul is stealing hence,
And life forsakes his earthly residence:
“Stay but one hour,—an hour is not so much,
Nay, half an hour: and if thy haste be such,        215
Nay, but a quarter, I will ask no more,
That thy departure, which torments me sore,
May now be lengthened by a little pause,
And take away this passion’s sudden cause.”
He hears me not; hard hearted as he is,        220
He is the scorn of time, and hath my bliss:
Time ne’er looks back; the river ne’er returns;
A second spring must help, or else I burn:
(No, no, the well is dry that should refresh me,
The glass is run of all my destiny:        225
Nature, of winter leaneth, niggardize,
Who, as he overbears the stream with ice
That man nor beast may of their pleasance taste,
So shuts she up her conduit all in haste,
And will not let her Nectar overflow,        230
Least mortal man immortal joys should know.
Adieu, unconstant love, to thy disport;
Adieu, false mirth, and melodies too short;
Adieu, faint-hearted instrument of lust,
That falsely hath betrayed our equal trust.)        235
Henceforth I will no more implore thine aid,
Or thee for ever of Cowardice shall upraid:
My little dildoe shall supply your kind,
A youth that is as light as leaves in wind:
He bendeth not, nor foldeth any deal,        240
But stands as stiff as he were made of steel;
(And plays at peacock twixt my legs right blithe
And doeth my tickling swage with many a sigh;)
And when I will, he doth refresh me well,
And never makes my tender belly swell.”        245
Poor Priapus, thy kingdom needs must fall,
Except thou thrust thus weakling to the wall;
Behold how he usurps in bed and bower,
And undermines thy kingdom every hour:
And slyly creeps between the bark and tree,        250
And sucks the sap while sleep detaineth thee:
He is my Mistress lake 2 at every sound,
And soon will tent a deep intrenched wound;
He waits on courtly nymphs that are full coy,
And bids them scorn the blind alluring boy;        255
(He gives young girls their gamesome sustenance,
And every gaping mouth his full sufficiance.)
He fortifies disdain with foreign arts,
While wantons chaste delude all loving hearts.
If any wight a cruel Mistress serve,        260
And in despair full deeply pine and sterve,
(Curse Eunuch dildo, senseless counterfeit,
Who sooth may fill, but never can beget:
But if revenge enraged with despair,
That such a dwarf his welfare should impair,)        265
Would fain this woman’s secretary know,
Let him attend the marks that I shall show:
He is a youth almost two handfulls high;
Straight, round, and plump, and having but one eye,
Wherein the rheum so fervently doth rain,        270
The Stygian gulf can scarce his tears contain;
Running sometimes in thick congealed glass,
Where he more like, down into hell would pass:
An arm strong guider steadfastly him guides;
Upon a chariot of five wheels he rides,        275
Attired in white velvet or in silk,
And nourisht with warm water or with milk,
And often alters pace as ways grow deep;
For who, in places unknown, one pace can keep?
Sometimes he smoothly slippeth down a hill;        280
Some other times, the stones his feet do kill;
In clayey ways he treadeth by and by,
And placeth himself and all that standeth by:
So fares this royal rider in his race,
Plunging and sowsing forward in like case,        285
Bedasht, bespotted, and beplotted foul—
God give thee shame, thou foul misshapen owl!
But free from grief a lady’s chamberleyne,
And canst thou not thy tattling tongue refrain?
I tell the beardless blabb, beware of stripes,        290
And be advised what thou so vainly pipst;
If Ilyian queen know of thy bravery here,
Thou shouldst be whipt with nettles for thy geer.
 
Saint Dennis shield me from such female sprights!
Regard not, dames, what Cupid’s poet writes:        295
I pen this story only for myself;
And, giving it to such an actual elf,
Am quite discouraged in my musery,
Since all my store to her seems misery.
I am not as was Hercules the stout,        300
That to the seventh journey could hold out;
I want those herbs and roots of Indian soil,
That strengthen weary members in their toil,
Or drugs or electuaries of new devises,
That shame my purse, and tremble at the prices.        305
I paid of both, [the] scott and lott almost,
Yet look as lank and lean as any ghost;
For that I always had, I paid the whole,
Which, for a poor man, is a princely dole—
What can be added more to my renown?        310
She lieth breathless; I am taken down;
The waves do swell, the tide climbs o’er the banks;
Judge, gentlewomen, doth this deserve no thanks?
And so, good night unto you every one;
For lo, our thread is spun, our play’s done.        315
 
(Thus hath my pen presum’d to please my friend:
  Oh, mightst thou likewise please Apollo’s eye.
  No, Honor brooks no such impiety,
  Yet Ovid’s wanton muse did not offend.
He is the fountain whence my streamers do flow—        320
  Forgive me if I speak as I was taught,
  Alike to women utter all I know,
  As longing to unlade so bad a fraught.
My mind once purg’d of such lascivious wit,
  With purified words and hallowed verse,        325
  Thy praises in large volumes shall rehearse
  That better may thy graver view befit.
Meanwhile it rests, you smile at what I write
  Or for attempting banish me your sight.)
 
Note 1. School (?). [back]
Note 2. Page (?). [back]
 
 
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