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Seventeenth Century

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Earl of Rochester

Luca Giordano. Psyche Honored by the People, c.1695-7


Could I but make my wishes insolent,
And force some image of a false content!
But they, like me, bashful and humble grown,
Hover at distance about beauty's throne;
There worship and admire, and then they die
Daring no more lay hold of her than I.
     Reason to worth bears a submissive spirit,
But fools can be familiar with merit.
Who but that blundering blockhead Phaëthon
Could e'er have thought to drive about the sun?
Just such another durst make love to you
Whom not ambition led, but dullness drew.
No amorous thought could his dull heart incline,
But he would have a passion, for 'twas fine!
That, a new suit, and what he next must say
Runs in his idle head the livelong day.
     Hard-hearted saint! since 'tis your will to be
So unrelenting pitiless to me,
Regardless of a love so many years
Preserved 'twixt lingering hopes and awful fears
(Such fears in lovers' breasts high value claims,
And such expiring martyrs feel in flames;
My hopes yourself contrived, with cruel care,
Through gentle smiles to lead me to despair),
íTis some relief in my extreme distress,
My rival is below your power to bless.







The Complete Poems of the Earl of Rochester. David M. Vieth, ed.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. 33.


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Restoration & 18th-century:

Samuel Butler
John Dryden
Samuel Pepys
John Bunyan
Aphra Behn
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea
Mary Astell
William Congreve
Matthew Prior
Daniel Defoe
John Gay
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
Jonathan Swift
Joseph Addison
Sir Richard Steele
James Thomson
Alexander Pope
Dr. Samuel Johnson
Thomas Gray
William Collins
Christopher Smart
Oliver Goldsmith
George Crabbe
William Cowper
James Boswell
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