Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
To a Lady
By Matthew Prior (1664–1721)
 
She refusing to continue a dispute with me, and leaving me in the argument.

SPARE, generous Victor, spare the slave,
  Who did unequal war pursue;
That more than triumph he might have,
  In being overcome by you.
 
In the dispute whate’er I said,        5
  My heart was by my tongue belied;
And in my looks you might have read
  How much I argued on your side.
 
You, far from danger as from fear,
  Might have sustained an open fight:        10
For seldom your opinions err;
  Your eyes are always in the right.
 
Why, fair one, would you not rely
  On Reason’s force with Beauty’s joined?
Could I their prevalence deny,        15
  I must at once be deaf and blind.
 
Alas! not hoping to subdue,
  I only to the fight aspired:
To keep the beauteous foe in view
  Was all the glory I desired.        20
 
But she, howe’er of victory sure,
  Contemns the wreath too long delayed;
And, armed with more immediate power,
  Calls cruel silence to her aid.
 
Deeper to wound, she shuns the fight:        25
  She drops her arms, to gain the field:
Secures her conquest by her flight;
  And triumphs, when she seems to yield.
 
So when the Parthian turned his steed,
  And from the hostile camp withdrew;        30
With cruel skill the backward reed
  He sent; and as he fled, he slew.
 
 
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