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Seventeenth Century

Eighteenth Century



Earl of Rochester

Gerard Wigmana. Cavalier Taking Leave of a Lady. Late 17th century.

Against Constancy.

Tell me no more of constancy,
     The frivolous pretense
Of cold age, narrow jealousy,
     Disease, and want of sense.

Let duller fools, on whom kind chance
     Some easy heart has thrown,
Despairing higher to advance,
     Be kind to one alone.

Old men and weak, whose idle flame
     Their own defects discovers,
Since changing can but spread their shame,
     Ought to be constant lovers.

But we, whose hearts do justly swell
     With no vainglorious pride,
Who know how we in love excel,
     Long to be often tried.

Then bring my bath, and strew my bed,
     As each kind night returns;
I'll change a mistress till I'm dead—
     And fate change me to worms.

The Complete Poems of the Earl of Rochester. David M. Vieth, ed.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 82.


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Samuel Butler
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Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
Mary Astell
William Congreve
Matthew Prior
Daniel Defoe
John Gay
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Jonathan Swift
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Sir Richard Steele
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