John Dryden

(1631 - 1700 / England)

Prologue To The Princess Of Cleves - Poem by John Dryden

Ladies! (I hope there's none behind to hear)
I long to whisper something in your ear:
A secret, which does much my mind perplex,—
There's treason in the play against our sex.
A man that's false to love, that vows and cheats,
And kisses every living thing he meets;
A rogue in mode,—I dare not speak too broad,—
One that—does something to the very bawd.
Out on him, traitor, for a filthy beast!
Nay, and he's like the pack of all the rest:
None of them stick at mark; they all deceive.
Some Jew has changed the text, I half believe;
Their Adam cozened our poor grandame Eve.
To hide their faults they rap out oaths, and tear;
Now, though we lie, we're too well bred to swear.
So we compound for half the sin we owe,
But men are dipt for soul and body too;
And, when found out, excuse themselves, pox cant them,
With Latin stuff, Perjuria ridet amantum.
I'm not book-learned, to know that word in vogue,
But I suspect 'tis Latin for a rogue.
I'm sure, I never heard that screech-owl hollowed
In my poor ears, but separation followed.
How can such perjured villains e'er be saved?
Achitophel's not half so false to David.
With vows and soft expressions to allure,
They stand, like foremen of a shop, demure:
No sooner out of sight, but they are gadding,
And for the next new face ride out a padding.
Yet, by their favour, when they have been kissing,
We can perceive the ready money missing.
Well! we may rail; but 'tis as good e'en wink;
Something we find, and something they will sink.
But, since they're at renouncing, 'tis our parts
To trump their diamonds, as they trump our hearts.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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