Alexander Pope

(21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744 / London / England)

The Challenge: A Court Ballad


I.
To one fair lady out of Court,
And two fair ladies in,
Who think the Turk and Pope a sport,
And wit and love no sin!
Come, these soft lines, with nothing stiff in,
To Bellenden, Lepell, and Griffin.
With a fa, la, la.

II.

What passes in the dark third row,
And what behind the scene,
Couches and crippled chairs I know,
And garrets hung with green;
I know the swing of sinful hack,
Where many damsels cry alack.
With a fa, la, la.

III.
Then why to Courts should I repair,
Where's such ado with Townsend?
To hear each mortal stamp and swear,
And every speech with 'Zounds' end;
To hear them rail at honest Sunderland,
And rashly blame the realm of Blunderland.
With a fa, la, la.

IV.
Alas! like Schutz I cannot pun,
Like Grafton court the Germans;
Tell Pickenbourg how slim she's grown,
Like Meadows run to sermons;
To court ambitious men may roam,
But I and Marlbro' stay at home.
With a fa, la, la.

V.
In truth, by what I can discern,
Of courtiers, 'twixt you three,
Some wit you have, and more may learn
From Court, than Gay or Me:
Perhaps, in time, you'll leave high diet,
To sup with us on milk and quiet.
With a fa, la, la.

VI.
At Leicester Fields, a house full nigh,
With door all painted green,
(A Milliner, I mean);
There may you meet us three to three,
For Gay can well make two of Me.
With a fa, la, la.

VII.
But should you catch the prudish itch,
And each become a coward,
Bring sometimes with you lady Rich,
And sometimes mistress Howard;
For virgins, to keep chaste, must go
Abroad with such as are not so.
With a fa, la, la.

VIII.
And thus, fair maids, my ballad ends;
God send the king safe landing;
And make all honest ladies friends
To armies that are standing;
Preserve the limits of those nations,
And take off ladies' limitations.
With a fa, la, la.

Submitted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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