Jonathan Swift

A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed

    Written For The Honour Of The Fair Sex
    Corinna, pride of Drury Lane,
    For whom no shepherd sighs in vain,
    Never did Covent Garden boast
    So bright a battered, strolling toast;
5   No drunken rake to pick her up,
    No cellar where on tick to sup;
    Returning at the midnight hour;
    Four storeys climbing to her bower;
    Then, seated on a three-legged chair,
10   Takes off her artificial hair:
    Now, picking out a crystal eye,
    She wipes it clean, and lays it by.
    Her eyebrows from a mouse’s hide,
    Stuck on with art on either side,
15   Pulls off with care, and first displays ’em,
    Then in a play-book smoothly lays ’em
    Now dexterously her plumpers draws,
    That serve to fill her hollow jaws.
    Untwists a wire; and from her gums
20   A set of teeth completely comes.
    Pulls out the rags contrived to prop
    Her flabby dugs, and down they drop.
    Proceeding on, the lovely goddess
    Unlaces next her steel-ribbed bodice;
25   Which by the operator’s skill,
    Press down the lumps, the hollows fill.
    Up goes her hand, and off she slips
    The bolsters that supply her hips.
    With gentlest touch, she next explores
30   Her shankers, issues, running sores;
    Effects of many a sad disaster,
    And then to each applies a plaster.
    But must, before she goes to bed,
    Rub off the daubs of white and red.
35   And smooth the furrows in her front,
    With greasy paper stuck upon’t.
    She takes a bolus e’er she sleeps;
    And then between two blankets creeps.
    With pains of love tormented lies;
40   Or if she chance to close her eyes,
    Of Bridewell and the compter dreams,
    And feels the lash, and faintly screams.
    Or, by a faithless bully drawn,
    At some hedge-tavern lies in pawn
45   Or to Jamaica seems transported,
    Alone, and by no planter courted;
    Or, near Fleet Ditch’s oozy brinks,
    Surrounded with a hundred stinks,
    Belated, seems on watch to lie,
50   And snap some cully passing by;
    Or, struck with fear, her fancy runs
    On watchmen, constables and duns,
    From whom she meets with frequent rubs;
    But, never from religious clubs;
55   Whose favour she is sure to find,
    Because she pays them all in kind.
    Corinna wakes. A dreadful sight!
    Behold the ruins of the night!
    A wicked rat her plaster stole,
60   Half ate, and dragged it to his hole.
    The crystal eye, alas, was missed;
    And Puss had on her plumpers pissed.
    A pigeon picked her issue-peas,
    And Shock her tresses filled with fleas.
65   The nymph, though in this mangled plight,
    Must every morn her limbs unite.
    But how shall I describe her arts
    To recollect the scattered parts?
    Or show the anguish, toil, and pain,
70   Of gathering up herself again?
    The bashful muse will never bear
    In such a scene to interfere.
    Corinna in the morning dizened,
    Who sees, will spew; who smells, be poisoned.

First published 1734

Robert Clark

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