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 Happy Night
By John Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire (1648–1721)
SINCE now my Silvia is as kind as fair,
Let wit and joy succeed my dull despair.
O what a night of pleasure was the last!
A full reward for all my troubles past;
And on my head if future mischiefs fall,        5
This happy night shall make amends for all.
Nay, tho’ my Silvia’s love should turn to hate,
I’ll think of this, and die contented with my fate.
  Twelve was the lucky minute when we met,
And on her bed we close together set;        10
Tho’ listening spies might be perhaps too near,
Love filled our hearts; there was no room for fear,
Now, whilst I strive her melting heart to move;
With all the powerful eloquence of love;
In her fair face I saw the color rise,        15
And an unusual softness in her eyes;
Gently they look, I with joy adore,
That only charm they never had before.
The wounds they made, her tongue was used to heal,
But now these gentle enemies reveal        20
A secret, which that friend would still conceal.
My eyes transported too with amorous rage,
Seem fierce with expectation to engage;
But fast she holds my hands, and close her thighs,
And what she longs to do, with frowns denies.        25
A strange effect on foolish women wrought,
Bred in disguises, and by custom taught:
Custom, that prudence sometimes overrules,
But serves instead of reason to the Fools!
Custom, which all the world to slavery brings,        30
The dull excuse for doing silly things.
She, by this method of her foolish sex,
Is forced awhile me and herself to vex:
But now, when thus we had been struggling long,
Her limbs grow weak, and her desires grow strong;        35
How can she hold to let the hero in?
He storms without, and love betrays within.
Her hands at last, to hide her blushes, leave
The Fort unguarded, willing to receive
My fierce assault made with a lover’s haste,        40
Like lightning piercing and as quickly past.
  Thus does fond nature with her children play;
Just shows us joy, then snatches it away.
’Tis not the excess of pleasure makes it short,
The pain of love’s as raging as the sport;        45
And yet, alas! that lasts: we sigh all night
With grief; but scarce one moment with delight.
Some little pain may check her kind desire,
But not enough to make her once retire.
Maids wounds for pleasure bear, as men for praise;        50
Here honor heals, there love the smart allays.
The world, if just, would harmful courage blame,
And this more innocent reward with fame.
Now she her well-contented thoughts employs
On her past fears, and on her future joys:        55
Whose harbinger did roughly all remove,
To make fit room for great, luxurious love.
Fond of the welcome guest, her arms embrace
My body, and her hands another place:
Which with one touch so pleased and proud doth grow,        60
It swells beyond the grasp that made it so:
Confinement scorns, in any straiter walls
Than those of love, where it contented falls.
  Tho’ twice o’erthrown, he more enflamed does rise,
And will, to the last drop, fight out the prize.        65
She like some Amazon in story proves,
That overcomes the hero whom she loves.
In the close strife she takes so much delight,
She then can think of nothing but the fight:
With joy she lays him panting at her feet,        70
But with more joy does his recovery meet.
Her trembling hands first gently raise his head:
She almost dies for fear that he is dead:
Then binds his wounds up with her busy hand,
And with that balm enables him to stand,        75
’Til by her eyes she conquers him once more,
And wounds him deeper than she did before.
Tho’ fallen from the top of Pleasure’s Hill,
With longing eyes we look up thither still;
Still thither our unwearyed wishes tend,        80
’Til we that height of happiness ascend
By gentle steps: the ascent itself exceeds
All joys, but that alone to which it leads:
First then, so long and lovingly we kiss,
As if, like doves, we knew no dearer bliss.        85
Still in one mouth our tongues together play,
While groping hands are pleased no less than they.
Thus clinged together, now a while we rest,
Breathing our souls into each other’s breast;
Then give a general kiss of all our parts,        90
While this way we make exchange of hearts.
Here, would my praise, as well as pleasure, dwell:
Enjoyment’s self I scarcely like so well:
The little Kiss comes short of rage and strength,
So largely recompensed with endless length.        95
This is a joy would last, if we could stay:
But love’s too eager to admit delay,
And hurries us along so smooth a way.
Now, wanton with delight, we nimbly move
Our pliant limbs, in all the shapes of love;        100
Our motion not like those of gamesome fools,
Whose active bodies show their heavy souls:
But sports of love, in which a willing mind
Make us as able as our hearts are kind:
At length, all languishing, and out of breath,        105
Panting, as in the agonies of death,
We lie entranced, ’til one provoking kiss
Transports our ravished souls to Paradise.
O Heaven of Love! thou moment of delight!
Wronged by my words, my fancy does thee right.        110
Methinks I lie all melting in her charms,
And fast locked up within her legs and arms;
Bent on our minds, and all our thoughts on fire,
Just laboring in the pangs of fierce desire.
At once, like misers, wallowing in their store,        115
In full possession; yet desiring more.
  Thus with repeated pleasures, while we waste
Our happy hours that like short minutes past,
To such a sum of bliss our joys amount,
The number now becomes too great to count.        120
Silent, as night, are all sincerest joys,
Like deepest waters running with least noise.
But now, at last, for want of further force,
From deeds alas; we fall into discourse;
A Fall, which each of us in rain bemoans;        125
A greater Fall than that of kings from thrones.
The tide of pleasure flowing now no more,
We lie like fish left gasping on the shore;
And now, as after fighting, wounds appear,
Which we in heat did neither feel, nor fear:        130
She, for her sake, entreats me to give o’er,
And yet for mine would gladly suffer more.
Her words are coy, while all her motions woo,
And, when she asks me, if it please me too,
I rage to show how well, but ’twill not do.        135
  Thus would hot love run itself out of breath,
And wanting rest, find it too soon in death;
Did not wise nature with a gentle force,
Restrain its rage, and stop its headlong course:
Indulgently severe, she well does spare        140
This child of hers, that most deserves her care.

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