As some fond virgin, whom her mother's care
Drags from the town to wholsom country air,
Just when she learns to roll a melting eye,
And hear a spark,° yet think no danger nigh:
From the dear man unwilling she must sever,
Yet takes one kiss before she parts for ever.
Thus from the world fair Zephalinda °flew,
Saw others happy, and with sighs withdrew;
Not that their pleasures caus'd her discontent,
She sign'd not that They stay'd, but that She went.
She went, to plain-work and to purling brooks,
Old-fashion'd halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks,
She went from Op'ra, park, assembly, play,
To morning walks, and pray'rs three hours a day:
To part her time 'twixt reading and Bohea,°
To muse, and spill her solitary Tea,
Or o'er cold coffee trifle with the spoon,
Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon;
Divert her eyes with pictures in the fire,
Hum half a tune, tell stories to the squire;°
Up to her godly garret after sev'n,
These starve and pray, for that's the way to heav'n.
Some Squire, perhaps, you take delight to rack;
Whose game is Whisk,° whose treat a toast in sack,°
Who visits with a gun, presents you birds,
Then gives a smacking buss,° and cries--No words!
Or with his hound comes hallowing from the stable,
Makes love° with nods, and knees beneath a table;
Whose laughs are hearty, tho' his jests are coarse,
And loves you best of all things--but his horse.
In some fair evening, on your elbow laid,
You dream of triumphs in the rural shade;
In pensive thought recall the fancy'd scene,
See Coronations rise on ev'ry green,
Before you pass th' imaginary sights
Of Lords, and Earls, and Dukes, and garter'd Knights;
While the spread Fan o'ershades your closing eyes;
Then give one flirt, and all the vision flies.
Thus vanish sceptres, coronets, and balls,
And leave you in lone woods, or empty walls.
So when your slave,° at some dear, idle time,
(Not plagu'd with headachs,° or the want of rhime)
Stands in the streets, abstracted from the crew,
And while he seems to study, thinks of you:
Just when his fancy points your sprightly eyes,
Or sees the blush of Parthenissa rise,°
Gay °pats my shoulder, and you vanish quite;
Streets, chairs,° and coxcombs,° rush upon my sight;
Vext to be still in town, I knit my brow,
Look sow'r, and hum a song--as you may now.
°To a Young Lady : The poem was written for Teresa Blount, the sister of
Alexander Pope's close friend, Martha Blount.
°Coronation: In England of the seventeen hundreds the coronation of a new
king or queen was an excuse for lots of parties. The coronation referred to
here was that of George I in 1714.
°Spark: The crack of burning wood in a fire and a young man on the prowl.
°Zephalinda: A fancy-sounding name Teresa Blount had adopted for herself.
°Bohea: Expensive tea.
°Squire: The owner of the farm. Squires mentioned later are from neighboring farms.
°Whisk: Whist, a card game for four people with a deck of fifty-two cards. Whisk is
possibly a country (small town) pronunciation. (Very boring stuff.)
Sack: Sherry wine. Obviously not a city wine.
°Makes Love: Comes on.
°Slave: The poet.
°Headachs: Pope suffered from migraine headaches.
°Parthenissa: Martha Blount
°Gay: John Gay, poet and playwright, friend of Alexander Pope,
best known for his comic musical The Beggar's Opera which suggests that the
morals of the criminal class are no worse (nor no better) than the morals of
the wealthy class.
°Chairs: Sedan chairs.
°Coxcombs: Fools, jerks.