Jonathan Swift

(30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745 / Dublin)

My Lady’s Lamantation And Complaint Against The Dean - Poem by Jonathan Swift

Sure never did man see
A wretch like poor Nancy,
So teazed day and night
By a Dean and a Knight.
To punish my sins,
Sir Arthur begins,
And gives me a wipe,
With Skinny and Snipe:,
His malice is plain,
Hallooing the Dean.


The Dean never stops,
When he opens his chops;
I'm quite overrun
With rebus and pun.
Before he came here,
To spunge for good cheer,
I sat with delight,
From morning till night,
With two bony thumbs
Could rub my old gums,
Or scratching my nose
And jogging my toes;
But at present, forsooth,
I must not rub a tooth.
When my elbows he sees
Held up by my knees,
My arms, like two props,
Supporting my chops,
And just as I handle 'em
Moving all like a pendulum;
He trips up my props,
And down my chin drops
From my head to my heels,
Like a clock without wheels;
I sink in the spleen,
A useless machine.
If he had his will,
I should never sit still:
He comes with his whims
I must move my limbs;
I cannot be sweet
Without using my feet;
To lengthen my breath,
He tires me to death.
By the worst of all squires,
Thro' bogs and thro' briers,
Where a cow would be startled,
I'm in spite of my heart led;
And, say what I will,
Haul'd up every hill;
Till, daggled and tatter'd,
My spirits quite shatter'd,
I return home at night,
And fast, out of spite:
For I'd rather be dead,
Than it e'er should be said,
I was better for him,
In stomach or limb.
But now to my diet;
No eating in quiet,
He's still finding fault,
Too sour or too salt:
The wing of a chick
I hardly can pick:
But trash without measure
I swallow with pleasure.
Next, for his diversion,
He rails at my person.
What court breeding this is!
He takes me to pieces:
From shoulder to flank
I'm lean and am lank;
My nose, long and thin,
Grows down to my chin;
My chin will not stay,
But meets it halfway;
My fingers, prolix,
Are ten crooked sticks:
He swears my el—bows
Are two iron crows,
Or sharp pointed rocks,
And wear out my smocks:
To 'scape them, Sir Arthur
Is forced to lie farther,
Or his sides they would gore
Like the tusks of a boar.
Now changing the scene
But still to the Dean;
He loves to be bitter at
A lady illiterate;
If he sees her but once,
He'll swear she's a dunce;
Can tell by her looks
A hater of books;
Thro' each line of her face
Her folly can trace;
Which spoils every feature
Bestow'd her by nature;
But sense gives a grace
To the homeliest face:
Wise books and reflection
Will mend the complexion:
(A civil divine!
I suppose, meaning mine!)
No lady who wants them,
Can ever be handsome.
I guess well enough
What he means by this stuff:
He haws and he hums,
At last out it comes:
What, madam? No walking,
No reading, nor talking?
You're now in your prime,
Make use of your time.
Consider, before
You come to threescore,
How the hussies will fleer
Where'er you appear;
'That silly old puss
Would fain be like us:
What a figure she made
In her tarnish'd brocade!'
And then he grows mild:
Come, be a good child:
If you are inclined
To polish your mind,
Be adored by the men
Till threescore and ten,
And kill with the spleen
The jades of sixteen;
I'll show you the way;
Read six hours a-day.
The wits will frequent ye,
And think you but twenty.
[To make you learn faster,
I'll be your schoolmaster
And leave you to choose
The books you peruse.]
Thus was I drawn in;
Forgive me my sin.
At breakfast he'll ask
An account of my task.
Put a word out of joint,
Or miss but a point,
He rages and frets,
His manners forgets;
And as I am serious,
Is very imperious.
No book for delight
Must come in my sight;
But, instead of new plays,
Dull Bacon's Essays,
And pore every day on
That nasty Pantheon.
If I be not a drudge,
Let all the world judge.
'Twere better be blind,
Than thus be confined.
But while in an ill tone,
I murder poor Milton,
The Dean you will swear,
Is at study or prayer.
He's all the day sauntering,
With labourers bantering,
Among his colleagues,
A parcel of Teagues,
Whom he brings in among us
And bribes with mundungus.
[He little believes
How they laugh in their sleeves.]
Hail, fellow, well met,
All dirty and wet:
Find out, if you can,
Who's master, who's man;
Who makes the best figure,
The Dean or the digger;
And which is the best
At cracking a jest.
[Now see how he sits
Perplexing his wits
In search of a motto
To fix on his grotto.]
How proudly he talks
Of zigzags and walks,
And all the day raves
Of cradles and caves;
And boasts of his feats,
His grottos and seats;
Shows all his gewgaws,
And gapes for applause;
A fine occupation
For one in his station!
A hole where a rabbit
Would scorn to inhabit,
Dug out in an hour;
He calls it a bower.
But, O! how we laugh,
To see a wild calf
Come, driven by heat,
And foul the green seat;
Or run helter-skelter,
To his arbour for shelter,
Where all goes to ruin
The Dean has been doing:
The girls of the village
Come flocking for pillage,
Pull down the fine briers
And thorns to make fires;
But yet are so kind
To leave something behind:
No more need be said on't,
I smell when I tread on't.
Dear friend, Doctor Jinny.
If I could but win ye,
Or Walmsley or Whaley,
To come hither daily,
Since fortune, my foe,
Will needs have it so,
That I'm, by her frowns,
Condemn'd to black gowns;
No squire to be found
The neighbourhood round;
(For, under the rose,
I would rather choose those)
If your wives will permit ye,
Come here out of pity,
To ease a poor lady,
And beg her a play-day.
So may you be seen
No more in the spleen;
May Walmsley give wine
Like a hearty divine!
May Whaley disgrace
Dull Daniel's whey-face!
And may your three spouses
Let you lie at friends' houses!


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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