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Poem by Thomas Parnell


On a Lady with a Foul Breath


Art thou alive? It cannot be,
There's so much Rottenness in Thee,
Corruption only is in Death;
And what's more Putrid than thy Breath?
Think not you Live, because you Speak,
For Graves such hollow Sounds can make;
And Respiration can't suffice,
For Vapours do from Caverns rise:
From Thee such noisom Stenches come,
Thy Mouth betrays thy Breast a Tomb.
Thy Body is a Corpse that goes,
By Magick rais'd from its Repose:
A Pestilence that walks by Day,
But falls at Night to Worms and Clay.
But I will to my Chloris run,
Who will not let me be undone:
The Sweets her Virgin-Breath contains,
Are fitted to remove my Pains;
There will I healing Nectar sip,
And to be sav'd, approach her Lip,
Tho' if I touch the matchless Dame,
I'm sure to burn with inward Flame.
Thus when I wou'd one Danger shun,
I'm strait upon another thrown:
I seek a Cure one Sore to ease,
Yet in that Cure's a New Disease.
But Love, tho' fatal, still can bless,
And greater Dangers hide the less;
I'll go where Passion bids me fly,
And chuse my Death, since I must Dye;
As Doves pursu'd by Birds of Prey,
Venture with milder Man to stay. 



Thomas Parnell


Thomas Parnell's other poems:
  1. On Content
  2. When Ore My Temples Balmy Vapours Rise
  3. On the Death of Mr. Viner
  4. Martial
  5. On Happiness in This Life


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