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 Question
(From New Crazy Tales, 1783)

TELL me, good doctor, what’s the cause,
(You have studied nature’s laws)
Why women, of one shape and feature,
So far should differ in their nature.
By nature here I do not mean        5
A temper eaten with the spleen;
No one whose happy soul’s at ease,
And has no thought but how to please.
But what I mean is only this,
Why one delights in amorous bliss,        10
While t’other, who has equal charms,
A stranger is to love’s alarms,
And talks of love with great despite
In which her sister takes delight?
To vouch the truth of what I say,        15
Two men I know both young and gay,
Who wearied of a single life,
Took each of them a lovely wife,
The daughters of a certain knight,
Alike in features, shape, and height;        20
I saw them married, put to bed
Each husband got a maidenhead,
Next day the bridegrooms were content,
And I down to the country went.
Within a week I came to town,        25
And found my friends were both cast down;
I could not bear to see them so,
And to the one did frankly go,
And asked the reason of his grief,
He said, I’m ruined past relief.        30
You see, my wife’s a lovely sight,
And formed to give a man delight;
Her eyes and face to love entice,
But, ah! my friend, she’s cold as ice:
No joy she gives, no joy can feel,        35
Nor meets my love with equal zeal;
And spite of all her outward charms,
Like marble lies within my arms;
No calenture can warm her blood,
Nor thaw the dull, the stagnate flood.        40
Thus I am made a slave for life,
Tied to a fair, but joyless wife.
I left this friend in discontent,
And to the other straightway went;
I saw he was but ill at ease,        45
And kindly asked him his disease.
My friend, said he, then made a pause,
You see me sad and ask the cause;
From such a friend I’ll nothing hide,
Cursed be the day I got a bride;        50
For tho’ she is made up of charms,
And came a virgin to my arms,
Yet I am wearied of my life,
And wish I ne’er had got a wife;
She is so full of wanton play,        55
I get no rest by night or day;
Her youthful blood is still on fire,
She is all love and hot desire;
Her pulse beats high, her bosom heaves,
The more I do, the more she craves.        60
But when by her resistless charms,
She draws me to her eager arms,
She’s with the joy transported quite,
And dies away in vast delight.
Last night I like a parson toiled,        65
But was, in spite of vigor, foiled;
I laid me down, and would have slept,
When to my breast she fondly crept.
And, giving me a burning kiss,
Begged that I would renew the bliss.        70
I asked her how she could support
The violence of amorous sport.
My life, said she, and squeezed my finger,
The more I’m thinged, I’m still the thinger.
Good sir, as for your natural question,
(A thing, too true to make a jest on)
At present I decline the task,
’Tis you should answer, I should ask.
Some things there are, if I might quote them,
Which can never reach to bottom;        80
Too ticklish to be nearly touched,
You may in simile be couched.
Two fiddles lay, in size and frame
Alike, their wood and strings the same;
Them both by turns a minstrel tried,        85
And with the stick their bellies plied.
A clown stood by astonished much
How with the same apparent touch,
One sounded with melodious voice,
Whilst t’other made a jarring noise.        90
To him the minstrel thus; Thou dunderhead,
With as just cause thou might have wondered
At Winter’s frost, or heat in June,
This fiddle here is out of tune.
Fiddles alone are not to blame,        95
The sticks must often take the shame;
Too feeble, short, or limber chosen,
And often fail for want of resin.

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