Against Constancy

John Wilmot 1647 (Ditchley, Oxfordshire) – 1680 (Woodstock, Oxfordshire)



Tell me no more of constancy,
The frivolous pretense
Of old age, narrow jealousy,
Disease, and want of sense.
  
Let duller fools on whom kind chance
Some easy heart has thrown,
Despairing higher to advance,
Be kind to one alone.
  
Old men and weak, whose idle flame,
Their own defects discovers,
Since changing can but spread their shame,
Ought to be constant lovers,
  
But we, whose hearts do justly swell
With no vainglorious pride,
Who know how we in love excel,
Long to be often tried.
  
Then bring my bath and strew my bed,
As each kind night returns:
I'll change a mistress till I'm dead,
And fate change me for worms.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

Modified on May 02, 2023

35 sec read
248

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH IXIX
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 609
Words 116
Stanzas 5
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

John Wilmot

John Wilmot (1 April 1647 – 26 July 1680) was an English poet and courtier of King Charles II's Restoration court. The Restoration reacted against the "spiritual authoritarianism" of the Puritan era. Rochester embodied this new era, and he became as well known for his rakish lifestyle as his poetry, although the two were often interlinked. He died as a result of venereal disease at the age of 33. Rochester was described by his contemporary Andrew Marvell as "the best English satirist," and he is generally considered to be the most considerable poet and the most learned among the Restoration wits. His poetry was widely censored during the Victorian era, but enjoyed a revival from the 1920s onwards, with reappraisals from noted literary figures such as Graham Greene and Ezra Pound. The critic Vivian de Sola Pinto linked Rochester's libertinism to Hobbesian materialism. During his lifetime, Rochester was best known for A Satyr Against Reason and Mankind, and it remains among his best-known works today.  more…

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