Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
The Imperfect Enjoyment
By Sir George Etherege (1635?–1691)
AFTER a pretty amorous discourse,
She does resist my love with pleasing force;
Moved not with anger, but with modesty,
Against her will she is my enemy.
Her eyes the rudeness of her arms excuse,        5
Whilst those accept what these seem to refuse;
To ease my passion and to make me blest
The obliging smock falls from her whiter breast.
Then with her lovely hands she does conceal
Those wonders chance so kindly did reveal.        10
In vain, alas! her nimble fingers strove
To shield her beauties from my greedy love:
Guarding her breasts, her lips she did expose,
To save a lily she must lose a rose.
So many charms she has in every place,        15
A hundred hands cannot defend each grace.
Sighing at length her force she does recall,
For since I must have part she’ll give me all.
Her arms the joyful conqueror embrace,
And seem to guide me to the sought-for place:        20
Her love is in her sparkling eyes express’d,
She falls o’ the bed for pleasure more than rest.
But oh, strange passion! oh, abortive joy!
My zeal does my devotion quite destroy:
Come to the temple where I should adore        25
My saint, I worship at the sacred door;
Oh, cruel chance! the town which did oppose
My strength so long, now yields to my dispose;
When overjoy’d with victory I fall
Dead at the foot of the surrender’d wall,        30
Without the usual ceremony, we
Have both fulfilled the amorous mystery;
The action which we should have jointly done,
Each has unluckily perform’d alone;
The union which our bodies should enjoy,        35
The union of our eager souls destroy.
Our flames are punish’d by their own excess,
We’d had more pleasure had our loves been less.
She blush’d and frown’d, perceiving we had done
The sport she thought we scarce had yet begun.        40
Alas, said I, condemn yourself, not me,
This is th’ effect of too much modesty.
Hence with that peevish virtue, the delight
Of both our victories was lost i’ the fight;
Yet from my shame your glory does arise,        45
My weakness proves the vigour of your eyes:
They did consume the victim ere it came
Unto the altar, with a purer flame:
Phyllis, let then this comfort ease your care,
You’d been more happy had you been less fair.        50

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