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 Discontented Married Man
Roxburghe Ballads
(Anonymous. From The Roxburghe Ballads, Vol. I. 1874)

A YOUNG man lately wedded was
  To a fair and comely creature,
She was a blithe and bonny Lass
  As ere was framed by Nature,
    With rolling eye,        5
    And forehead high,
  And all good parts Nature could give her;
But she had learnèd such a note,
  She could not keep her legs together.
A lusty youth, of Cupid’s strain,        10
  That might the Queen of Love contented,
Came unto her, her love to gain,
  And freely she her love consented:
    But, to be short,
    In Cupid’s Court        15
  He used her well when he came thither,
And played his part in such an art,
  She could not, &c.
When her husband he heard tell
  Of her tricks, with true relation,        20
He complainèd to himself
  Very sadly in this fashion:
Quoth he, “I would give twenty pound,
  [And] that’s ten more than I had with her,
Her mother would take her home again,        25
  And make her keep her,” &c.
“Son, be thou of patient mind,
  Let not thoughts thy fancies trouble;
For I to thee will still prove kind,
  And her portion I will double,—        30
    Time and age
    Will assuage,
  And the fairest flower will wither,
And I such counsel will her give
  Shall make her keep her legs together.”        35
Henceforth, therefore, I’ll forsake her,
  And her mother [she] shall take her;
And, for shame! let her better make her,
  Or I again will never take her.
Pure modesty she doth defy,        40
  (Besides, she’s fickle as the weather),
And her scolding plainly shows
  She cannot keep her legs together.
Then I’ll leave off to find another,
  Though’t may add unto my lustre,        45
For brave spacious England wide
  I am sure affords a cluster;
    Good and bad
    Are to be had;
  Jove speed me well! though long I tarry,        50
For, ere that I’ll have such a Mate
  I never more intend to marry.
SHE is gone a wand’ring forth
  (Wanton wenches will be ranging)
With two gallants of great worth:        55
  Such as they affect a changing.
    She is bent
    To consent
  For to go she knows not whether:
They will teach her such a trick        60
  She will not keep her legs together.
To the Dancing-school she goes,
  (There she spends her husband’s treasure),
On each Shoe she wears a Rose,
  For to show she’s fit for pleasure;        65
    And resort
    To Cupid’s Court,
  And no sooner she comes thither,
She learns so much of that same sport,
  She cannot keep her legs together.        70
To the Tavern she repairs,
  Whilst her husband sits and muses,
There she domineers and swears,
  (’Tis a thing she often uses!),
    And, being fine,        75
    She, for wine,
  Will both pawn her hat and feather;
Which doth show that it is true
  She cannot keep her legs together.
He’s a Coxcomb that doth grieve        80
  And knows not how to court this creature,
For he may pin her to his sleeve,
  She is of so kind a nature:
    She will play
    Every way,        85
  And is as nimble as a feather,
But she will often go astray,
  She cannot keep her legs together.
Thou that hast a wife that’s civil,
  Love her well and make much of her;        90
For a woman that is evil
  All the town, thou seest, will scoff her.
    Love thy wife
    As thy life,
  Let her not go thou know’st not whither;        95
For you will always live in strife
  If she keep not her legs together.
Maidens fair, have a care
  Whom you love and whom you marry;
Love not those that jealous are,        100
  Longer you had better tarry;
    For offence
    Springs from hence—
  You will go you know not whether,
Till you lose both wit and sense,        105
  And cannot keep your legs together.

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