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Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.

Poems: 1713–17

Epistle to Mrs. Teresa Blount

  • On Her Leaving the Town after the Coronation
  • This was written shortly after the coronation of George I. ‘Zephalinda’ was a fanciful name employed by Teresa Blount in correspondence.

  • AS some fond virgin, whom her mother’s care

    Drags from the town to wholesome country air,

    Just when she learns to roll a melting eye,

    And hear a spark, yet think no danger nigh—

    From the dear man unwilling she must sever,

    Yet takes one kiss before she parts for ever—

    Thus from the world fair Zephalinda flew,

    Saw others happy, and with sighs withdrew;

    Not that their pleasures caus’d her discontent;

    She sigh’d not that they stay’d, but that she went.

    She went to plain-work, and to purling brooks,

    Old-fashion’d halls, dull aunts, and croaking rooks:

    She went from Op’ra, Park, Assembly, Play,

    To morning walks, and prayers three hours a day;

    To part her time ’twixt reading and Bohea,

    To muse, and spill her solitary tea;

    Or o’er cold coffee trifle with the spoon,

    Count the slow clock, and dine exact at noon;

    Divert her eyes with pictures in the fire,

    Hum half a tune, tell stories to the squire;

    Up to her godly garret after sev’n,

    There starve and pray, for that ’s the way to Heav’n.

    Some Squire, perhaps, you take delight to rack,

    Whose game is Whist, whose treat a toast in sack;

    Who visits with a gun, presents you birds,

    Then gives a smacking buss, and cries—‘No words!’

    Or with his hounds comes hollowing from the stable,

    Makes love with nods, and knees beneath a table;

    Whose laughs are hearty, tho’ his jests are coarse,

    And loves you best of all things—but his horse.

    In some fair ev’ning, on your elbow laid,

    You dream of triumphs in the rural shade;

    In pensive thought recall the fancied scene,

    See coronations rise on ev’ry green:

    Before you pass th’ imaginary sights

    Of Lords and Earls and Dukes and garter’d Knights,

    While the spread fan o’ershades your closing eyes;

    Then gives one flirt, and all the vision flies.

    Thus vanish sceptres, coronets, and balls,

    And leave you in lone woods, or empty walls!

    So when your Slave, at some dear idle time

    (Not plagued with headaches or the want of rhyme)

    Stands in the streets, abstracted from the crew,

    And while he seems to study, thinks of you;

    Just when his fancy paints your sprightly eyes,

    Or sees the blush of soft Parthenia rise,

    Gay pats my shoulder, and you vanish quite,

    Streets, Chairs, and Coxcombs rush upon my sight;

    Vext to be still in town, I knit my brow,

    Look sour, and hum a tune, as you may now.