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Poem by John Gay

To a Young Lady, with Some Lampreys

With lovers, twas of old the fashion
By presents to convey their passion;
No matter what the gift they sent,
The Lady saw that love was meant.
Fair Atalanta, as a favour,
Took the boars head her Hero gave her;
Nor could the bristly thing affront her,
Twas a fit present from a hunter.
When Squires send woodcocks to the dame,
It serves to show their absent flame:
Some by a snip of woven hair,
In posied lockets bribe the fair;
How many mercenary matches
Have sprung from Dimond-rings and watches!
But hold  a ring, a watch, a locket,
Would drain at once a Poets pocket;
He should send songs that cost him nought,
Nor evn he prodigal of thought.
Why then send Lampreys? fye, for shame!
Twill set a virgins blood on flame.
This to fifteen a proper gift!
It might lend sixty five a lift.
I know your maiden Aunt will scold,
And think my present somewhat bold.
I see her lift her hands and eyes.
What eat it, Niece? eat Spanish flies!
Lampreys a most immodest diet:
Youll neither wake nor sleep in quiet.
Should I to night eat Sago cream,
Twould make me blush to tell my dream;
If I eat Lobster, tis so warming,
That evry man I see looks charming;
Wherefore had not the filthy fellow
Laid Rochester upon your pillow?
I vow and swear, I think the present
Had been as modest and as decent.
Who has her virtue in her power?
Each day has its unguarded hour;
Always in danger of undoing,
A prawn, a shrimp may prove our ruin!
The shepherdess, who lives on salad,
To cool her youth, controuls her palate;
Should Dians maids turn liqurish livers,
And of huge lampreys rob the rivers,
Then all beside each glade and Visto,
Youd see Nymphs lying like Calisto.
The man who meant to heat your blood,
Needs not himself such vicious food 
In this, I own, your Aunt is clear,
I sent you what I well might spare:
For when I see you, (without joking)
Your eyes, lips, breasts, are so provoking,
They set my heart more cock-a-hoop,
Than could whole seas of craw-fish soupe. 

John Gay

John Gay's other poems:
  1. Sweet William's Farewell to Black-Ey'd Susan
  2. An Elegy on a Lap-dog
  3. If the Heart of a Man
  4. The Quidnunckis
  5. Acis and Galatea

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