Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
To a Child of Quality, Five Years Old
By Matthew Prior
1704: The Author Then Forty

LOVES, knights and squires, the numerous band
  That wear the fair Miss Mary’s fetters,
Were summoned by her high command,
  To show their passions by their letters.
My pen among the rest I took,        5
  Lest those bright eyes that cannot read
Should dart their kindling fires, and look
  The power they have to be obey’d.
Not quality, nor reputation,
  Forbid me yet my flame to tell,        10
Dear five-years-old befriends my passion
  And I may write till she can spell.
For, while she makes her silkworms’ beds
  With all the tender things I swear;
Whilst all the house my passion reads,        15
  In papers round her baby’s hair;
She may receive and own my flame,
  For, though the strictest prudes should know it,
She ’ll pass for a most virtuous dame,
  And I for an unhappy poet.        20
Then too alas! when she shall tear
  The rhymes some younger rival sends;
She ’ll give me leave to write, I fear,
  And we shall still continue friends.
For, as our different ages move,        25
  ’T is so ordained, (would Fate but mend it!)
That I shall be past making love,
  When she begins to comprehend it.

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