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.
A Satire on Marriage
By Thomas Brown (1662–1704)
(From Works in Prose and Verse, 1730)

THE HUSBAND’S the pilot, the wife is the ocean,
He always in danger, she always in motion:
And she that in wedlock twice hazards his carcass,
Twice ventures a drowning, and faith that’s a hard case;
Even at our own weapons the females defeat us,        5
And death, only death, can sign our quietus.
Not to tell you sad stories of Liberty lost,
How our mirth is all palled, and our pleasures all crost;
This pagan confinement, this damnable station,
Suits no order, nor age, nor degree in thy nation.        10
  The Levite it keeps from parochial duty,
For who can at once mind religion and beauty?
The rich it alarms with expenses and trouble,
And a poor beast, you know, can scarce carry double;
  ’Twas invented they tell you to keep us from falling.        15
Oh, the virtue and grace of a shrill caterwauling!
But it palls in your game. Ah, but how do you know, Sir,
How often your neighbour breaks up your enclosure?
  For this is the principal comfort of marriage,
You must eat, tho’ a hundred have a spit in your porridge.        20
If at night you’re inactive, and fail of performing,
Enter thunder and lightning, and bloodshed next morning.
Cries the bone of your side, thanks, dear Mr. Horner,
This comes of your sinning with Crape in the corner.
Then to make up the breach, all your strength you must rally,        25
And labor and sweat like a slave at the galley.
Yet still you must charge, oh, blessed condition!
Tho’ you know, to your cost, you’ve no ammunition.
’Till at last, my dear mortified tool of a man,
You’re not able to make a poor flash in the pan.        30
  Fire, female and flood, begin with a letter,
And the world’s for them all not a farthing the better.
Your flood is soon gone; you your fire may humble,
If into the flame store of water you tumble;
But to cool the damned heat of your wife’s titilation        35
You may use half the engines and pumps in the nation,
But may piss out as well the last conflagration.
Thus, Sir, I have sent you my thoughts of the matter,
Judge as you please, but I scorn for to flatter.

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