Oh, that the awful truth might quicken
This stern conviction to your breast:
You are no longer now a chicken
Too young to quit the parent nest.
So put aside your froward carriage,
And fix your thoughts, whilst yet there’s time,
Upon the righteousness of marriage
With some such godly man as I’m.
A PARAPHRASE, BY CHAUCER
Syn that you, Chloe, to your moder sticken,
Maketh all ye yonge bacheloures full sicken;
Like as a lyttel deere you ben y-hiding
Whenas come lovers with theyre pityse chiding.
Sothly it ben faire to give up your moder
For to beare swete company with some oder;
Your moder ben well enow so farre shee goeth,
But that ben not farre enow, God knoweth;
Wherefore it ben sayed that foolysh ladyes
That marrye not shall leade an aype in Hadys;
But all that do with gode men wed full quicklye
When that they be on dead go to ye seints full sickerly.
Than you, O valued friend of mine,
A better patron non est!
Come, quaff my home-made Sabine wine,—
You’ll find it poor but honest.
I put it up that famous day
You patronized the ballet,
And the public cheered you such a way
As shook your native valley.
Caecuban and the Calean brand
May elsewhere claim attention;
But I have none of these on hand,—
For reasons I’ll not mention.
So, come! though favors I bestow
Cannot be called extensive,
Who better than my friend should know
That they’re at least expensive?
If for your oath broken, or word lightly spoken,
A plague comes, Barine, to grieve you;
If on tooth or on finger a black mark shall linger
Your beauty to mar, I’ll believe you.
But no sooner, the fact is, you bind, as your tact
Your head with the vows of untruth,
Than you shine out more charming, and, what’s more alarming,
You come forth beloved of our youth.
It is advantageous, but no less outrageous,
Your poor mother’s ashes to cheat;
While the gods of creation and each constellation
You seem to regard as your meat.
Now Venus, I own it, is pleased to condone it;
The good-natured nymphs merely smile;
And Cupid is merry,—’t is humorous, very,—
And sharpens his arrows the while.
Our boys you are making the slaves for your taking,
A new band is joined to the old;
While the horrified matrons your juvenile patrons
In vain would bring back to the fold.
The thrifty old fellows your loveliness mellows
Confess to a dread of your house;
But a more pressing duty, in view of your beauty,
Is the young wife’s concern for her spouse.