|The Problem, "That My Lord Berkeley Stinks When He is in Love"|
by Jonathan Swift  /  poetry  /  27 Oct 2007
Did ever problem thus perplex,
Or more employ the female sex?
So sweet a passion who would think,
Jove ever form'd to make a stink?
The ladies vow and swear, they'll try,
Whether it be a truth or lie.
Love's fire, it seems, like inward heat,
Works in my lord by stool and sweat,
Which brings a stink from every pore,
And from behind and from before;
Yet what is wonderful to tell it,
None but the favourite nymph can smell it.
But now, to solve the natural cause
By sober philosophic laws;
Whether all passions, when in ferment,
Work out as anger does in vermin;
So, when a weasel you torment,
You find his passion by his scent.
We read of kings, who, in a fright,
Though on a throne, would fall to sh--.
Beside all this, deep scholars know,
That the main string of Cupid's bow,
Once on a time was an a-- gut;
Now to a nobler office put,
By favour or desert preferr'd
From giving passage to a t--;
But still, though fix'd among the stars,
Does sympathize with human a--.
Thus, when you feel a hard-bound breech,
Conclude love's bow-string at full stretch,
Till the kind looseness comes, and then,
Conclude the bow relax'd again.
And now, the ladies all are bent,
To try the great experiment,
Ambitious of a regent's heart,
Spread all their charms to catch a f--
Watching the first unsavoury wind,
Some ply before, and some behind.
My lord, on fire amid the dames,
F--ts like a laurel in the flames.
The fair approach the speaking part,
To try the back-way to his heart.
For, as when we a gun discharge,
Although the bore be none so large,
Before the flame from muzzle burst,
Just at the breech it flashes first;
So from my lord his passion broke,
He f--d first and then he spoke.
The ladies vanish in the smother,
To confer notes with one another;
And now they all agreed to name
Whom each one thought the happy dame.
Quoth Neal, whate'er the rest may think,
I'm sure 'twas I that smelt the stink.
You smell the stink! by G--d, you lie,
Quoth Ross, for I'll be sworn 'twas I.
Ladies, quoth Levens, pray forbear;
Let's not fall out; we all had share;
And, by the most I can discover,
My lord's a universal lover.
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