Gallants, a bashful poet bids me say,
He's come to lose his maidenhead to-day.
Be not too fierce; for he's but green of age,
And ne'er, till now, debauched upon the stage.
He wants the suffering part of resolution,
And comes with blushes to his execution.
Ere you deflower his Muse, he hopes the pit
Will make some settlement upon his wit.
Promise him well, before the play begin;
For he would fain be cozened into sin.
'Tis not but that he knows you mean to fail;
But, if you leave him after being frail,
He'll have, at least, a fair pretence to rail;
To call you base, and swear you used him ill,
And put you in the new Deserters' Bill.
Lord, what a troop of perjured men we see;
Enow to fill another Mercury!
But this the ladies may with patience brook;
Theirs are not the first colours you forsook.
He would be loath the beauties to offend;
But, if he should, he's not too old to mend.
He's a young plant, in his first year of bearing;
But his friend swears, he will be worth the rearing.
His gloss is still upon him; though 'tis true
He's yet unripe, yet take him for the blue.
You think an apricot half green is best;
There's sweet and sour, and one side good at least.
Mangos and limes, whose nourishment is little,
Though not for food, are yet preserved for pickle,
So this green writer may pretend, at least,
To whet your stomachs for a better feast.
He makes this difference in the sexes too;
He sells to men, he gives himself to you.
To both he would contribute some delight;
A mere poetical hermaphrodite.
Thus he's equipped, both to be wooed, and woo;
With arms offensive, and defensive too;
'Tis hard, he thinks, if neither part will do.
John Dryden's Other Poems
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