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.
An Imitation of Ovid’s Amours
By Matthew Prior (1664–1721)
(Book III. Elegy III; from Miscellaneous Works, 1740)

CHLOE, since you a handsome woman are,
And consequently frail as you are fair,
Be not to any of my rivals coy,
But all the sweets of Liberty enjoy:
Through ev’ry various scene of loving rove,        5
And to the best your youth and charms improve;
I, all this freedom can with ease allow;
I meant not to confine you to a vow;
Provided that you act with secrecy,
And keep your jilting tricks concealed from me.        10
She sins not to the world who can deny,
And brazen out the rumour with a lie.
’Tis folly, nay, ’tis madness to reveal
That which you can but any way conceal.
You what the world would ne’er suspect proclaim,        15
And double by your impudence your shame.
The lewdest, bawdiest drab in all the town
Will shut the door, before she lays her down.
Is’t not enough that fame proclaims your guilt,
But you, yourself, must tell, you are a jilt?        20
For your own sake be with your pleasures wise,
And sin at least under a chaste disguise.
Nay, if to me, your tricks should be betrayed,
Vow they’re all false, and that the world are mad;
Blush, weep, sigh, rage, and all your passions vent,        25
As if you did your injured fame lament:
And I shall fondly think your innocent.
When to some secret grotto you resort,
That love will suit, conceal the am’rous sport;
There then unmasked, let loose your fierce desire,        30
Inflame with every lecherous trick your fire,
Thy soul in its own native dress expose,
And what, without disguise, you are disclose;
Baulk nothing that can add to your delight,
But vigorously pursue love’s pleasing fight.        35
Without a blush your folding arms, fast lock,
That links you closer, and improves the shock.
Your tongue to his in humid kisses dart,
And let each single member have a part.
As still you’re acting the soft scenes of love,        40
Your body in a thousand postures move;
Art does the dry insipid act advance,
And different motion does the bliss enhance.
All dying, amorous, soft expressions use,
Your melting looks new vigor will infuse,        45
But when you meet me, do not disabuse;
Hide with thy waving robe the rising blush,
By strong denial all suspicion crush,
Till scandal’s self confirm the general hush.
To me, to all the world thy truth declare,        50
That if deceived, unknowing I may err.
My dear credulity O ne’er destroy,
That paradise of fools let me enjoy.
But why! ah why! so often must I see
The billet sent, and brought again to thee?        55
Why deep indented, when I come, is seen
The couch without, the conscious bed within;
And ev’ry seat a witness of thy sin?
Why discomposed the ringlets of thy hair,
Move than with sleep? Why all thy bosom bare,        60
And all the marks of love imprinted there?
Lost reputation though you may despise,
Set not at least your guilt before my eyes.
Consider me, if not your ruined fame;
To me ’tis death, to you what is not shame.        65
When you confess I feel the fatal pains,
And the chill’d blood creeps slowly through my veins.
But ah! in vain thy falsehood I would hate;
No; I must love thee, faithless and ingrate!
Even while I fly from thy destructive charms,        70
I wish myself expiring in thy arms,
O there conceal what I shall not inquire!
Did not thy conduct blow it to a fire,
Each spark of jealousy wou’d soon expire.
Nay, wert thou taken in the guilty act,        75
And even these eyes were witness to the fact,
What well I saw, as well would’st thou deny,
And swear my sense imposed on me a lie,
My willing eyes their evidence should quit,
And all my soul in sorrow should submit.        80
Prepared to yield, how easy is thy task!
To say, ’tis false, is all that I can ask,
And since two words thy conquest may secure,
And since thy judge, if not thy cause, is sure,
At least be constant in a fixed denial;        85
Thy truth, my girl, shall never come on trial.

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