Lord John Wilmot
Biography of Lord John Wilmot
Wilmot was born at Ditchley in Oxfordshire, England. He was the son of a Cavalier hero and his deeply religious wife. By the age of eighteen he had already been involved in a number of affairs, one of which resulted in the birth of an illegitimate daughter. In 1665 he kidnapped the much sought after heiress Elizabeth Malet, whom he later married. His rakish lifestyle and wit earned him the favour of Charles II and he remained a favourite of the king even though he was banished from the court on a number of occasions.
Wilmot's poetry often expresses a feeling of disgust at the futile nature of his life, a life he seemed to repent for during its last year, whilst being cared for by the rising Anglican Bishop, Gilbert Burnet. Wilmot's work gives great insight into the over-indulgent lifestyles led in the court of Charles II and he writes more frankly about sex than any previous writers in the seventeenth century. He influenced and was admired by a large number of poets including John Dryden, Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope. He was also known to be a great patron of writers, if a little unpredictable with his support.
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Lord John Wilmot Poems
To His Mistress
Why dost thou shade thy lovely face? O why Does that eclipsing hand of thine deny The sunshine of the Sun's enlivening eye?
I Cannot Change, As Others Do
I cannot change, as others do, Though you unjustly scorn; Since that poor swain that sighs for you, For you alone was born.
Love and Life
All my past life is mine no more, The flying hours are gone, Like transitory dreams giv'n o'er, Whose images are kept in store
A Song of a Young Lady to Her Ancient Lo...
Ancient Person, for whom I All the flattering youth defy, Long be it e'er thou grow old, Aching, shaking, crazy cold;
The Disabled Debauchee
As some brave admiral, in former war, Deprived of force, but pressed with courage still, Two rival fleets appearing from afar, Crawls to the top of an adjacent hill;
You ladies of merry England Who have been to kiss the Duchess's hand, Pray, did you not lately observe in the show A noble Italian called Signior Dildo?
Portsmouth's Looking Glass
Methinks I see you, newly risen From your embroider'd Bed and pissing, With studied mien and much grimace, Present yourself before your glass,
All My Past Life...
All my past life is mine no more, The flying hours are gone, Like transitory dreams given o'er, Whose images are kept in store
My Dear Mistress Has a Heart
My dear mistress has a heart Soft as those kind looks she gave me, When with love's resistless art, And her eyes, she did enslave me;
Poems to Mulgrave and Scroope
Deare Friend. I heare this Towne does soe abound, With sawcy Censurers, that faults are found,
A Woman's Honour
Love bade me hope, and I obeyed; Phyllis continued still unkind: Then you may e'en despair, he said, In vain I strive to change her mind.
A Fragment of Seneca Translated
After Death nothing is, and nothing, death, The utmost limit of a gasp of breath. Let the ambitious zealot lay aside His hopes of heaven, whose faith is but his pride;
Absent of Thee I Languish Still
Absent from thee I languish still; Then ask me not, when I return? The straying fool 'twill plainly kill To wish all day, all night to mourn.
The Platonic Lady
I could love thee till I die, Would'st thou love me modestly, And ne'er press, whilst I live, For more than willingly I would give:
Were I (who to my cost already am
One of those strange prodigious Creatures Man)
A Spirit free, to choose for my own share,
What Case of Flesh, and Blood, I pleas'd to weare,
I'd be a Dog, a Monkey, or a Bear,
Or any thing but that vain Animal,
Who is so proud of being rational.
The senses are too gross, and he'll contrive
A Sixth, to contradict the other Five;