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PRIOR, Matthew

A Dutch Proverb

Fire, Water, Woman, are Man's Ruin;

Says wise Professor Vander Bruin.

By Flames a House I hir'd was lost

Last Year: and I must pay the Cost.

This Spring the Rains o'erflow'd my Ground:

And my best Flanders Mare was drown'd.

A Slave I am to Clara's Eyes:

The Gipsey knows her Pow'r, and flies.

Fire, Water, Woman, are My Ruin:

And great Thy Wisdom, Vander Bruin.

A Better Answer

Dear Cloe, how blubber'd is that pretty Face?

Thy cheek all on fire, and thy hair all uncurl'd:

Pr'ythee quit this caprice; and (as old Falstaf says)

Let us e'en talk a little like folks of this world.

How can'st thou presume, thou hast leave to destroy

The beauties, which Venus but lent to thy keeping?

Those looks were design'd to inspire love and joy:

More ord'nary eyes may serve people for weeping.

To be vexed at a trifle or two that I writ,

Your judgment at once, and my passion you wrong:

You take that for fact, which will scarce be found Wit:

Od's Life! must one swear to the truth of a song?

What I speak, my fair Cloe, and what I write, shews

The diff'rence there is betwixt Nature and Art:

I court others in verse; but I love thee in prose:

And they have my whimsies; but thou hast my heart.

The god of us verse-men (you know child) the sun,

How after his journeys he sets up his rest:

If at morning o'er earth 'tis his fancy to run;

At night he reclines on his Thetis's breast.

So when I am weary'd with wand'ring all day,

To thee my delight in the evening I come:

No matter what beauties I saw in my way:

They were but my visits; but thou art my home.

Then finish, dear Cloe, this pastoral war;

And let us like Horace and Lydia agree:

For thou art a girl as much brighter than her

As he was a poet sublimer than me.

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003