Matthew Prior

(1664 - 1721 / Dorset / England)

To A Lady - Poem by Matthew Prior

Spare, gen'rous victor, spare the slave,
Who did unequal war pursue;
That more than triumph he might have,
In being overcome by you.

In the dispute whate'er I said,
My heart was by my tongue belied;
And in my looks you might have read
How much I argued on your side.

You, far from danger as from fear,
Might have sustain'd an open fight:
For seldom your opinions err:
Your eyes are always in the right.

Why, fair one, would you not rely
On Reason's force with Beauty's join'd?
Could I their prevalence deny,
I must at once be deaf and blind.

Alas! not hoping to subdue,
I only to the fight aspir'd:
To keep the beauteous foe in view
Was all the glory I desir'd.

But she, howe'er of vict'ry sure.
Contemns the wreath too long delay'd;
And, arm'd with more immediate pow'r,
Calls cruel silence to her aid.

Deeper to wound, she shuns the fight:
She drops her arms, to gain the field:
Secures her conquest by her flight;
And triumphs, when she seems to yield.

So when the Parthian turn'd his steed,
And from the hostile camp withdrew;
With cruel skill the backward reed
He sent; and as he fled, he slew.


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Read poems about / on: war, silence, beauty, fear, wind, hope



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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