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 Sparrow and His Mate
By Sir John Vanbrugh (1664–1726)
(From Aesop, 1697)

IN the sprightly month of May,
When males and females sport and play,
And kiss and toy away the day;
An eager sparrow, and his mate,
Chirping on a tree were sate        5
Full of love—and full of prate.
They talked of nothing but their fires,
Of raging heats and strong desires,
Of eternal constancy;
How true and faithful they would be,        10
Of this and that, and endless joys,
And a thousand more such toys.
The only thing they apprehended,
Was that their lives would be so short,
They could not finish half their sport        15
Before their days were ended.
But as from bough to bough they rove,
      They chanced at last,
      In furious haste,
On a twig with birdlime spread,        20
(Want of a more downy bed)
To act a scene of love.
Fatal it proved to both their fires.
For though at length they broke away,
And balked the schoolboy of his prey,        25
Which made him weep the livelong day,
The bridegroom, in the hasty strife,
Was stuck so fast to his dear wife,
That though he used his utmost art,
He quickly found it was in vain,        30
To put himself to further pain,
They never more must part.
A gloomy shade o’ercast his brow;
He found himself—I know not how:
He looked—as husbands often do.        35
Where’er he moved, he felt her still,
She kissed him oft against his will:
Abroad, at home, at bed and board,
With favours she o’erwhelmed her lord.
Oft he turned his head away,        40
And seldom had a word to say,
Which absolutely spoiled her play,
For she was better stored.
Howe’er, at length her stock was spent,
(For female fires sometimes may be        45
Subject to mortality;)
So back to back they sit and suddenly repent.
But the mute scene was quickly ended;
The lady, for her share, pretended
The want of love lay at his door;        50
For her part, she had still in store
Enough for him, and twenty more,
Which could not be contented.
He answered her in homely words,
(For sparrows are but ill-bred birds,)        55
That he already had enjoyed
So much, that truly he was cloyed.
Which so provoked her spleen
That after some good hearty prayers,
A jostle, and some spiteful tears,        60
They fell together by the ears,
And ne’er were found again.

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