Answer to Chloe Jealous
by Matthew Prior (1664-1721)
Dear Chloe, how blubbered is that pretty face!
Thy cheek all on fire, and thy hair all uncurled.
Prithee, quit this caprice; and (as old Falstaff says)
Let us e’en talk a little like folks of this world.
How canst thou presume thou hast leave to destroy
The beauties which Venus but lent to thy keeping?
Those looks were designed to inspire love and joy:
More ordinary eyes may serve people for weeping.
To be vexed at a trifle or two that I writ
Your judgement 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 Chloe, and what I write, shows
The difference 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 wearied with wandering 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 Chloe, 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.