Southwell, October 9, 1806
NOTE: This poem was entitled To Miss E. P. in the 1806 Edition of Fugitive Pieces. Miss E. P. was Elizabeth Pigot, Byron's friend and neighbor. I have used the original poem from the 1806 edition, as some stanzas are omitted in later publications, along with changes in the wording.
ELIZA ! what fools are the Mussulman sect,
Who to woman deny the soul's future existence,
Could they see thee, Eliza ! They'd own their defect,
And this doctrine would meet with a general resistance.
Had their Prophet possess'd but an atom of sense,
He ne'er would have woman from Paradise driven,
But instead of his Houris a flimsy pretence,
With woman alone, he had peopled his Heaven.
But still to increase your calamities more,
Not content with depriving your bodies of spirit,
He allots but one husband to share among'st four,
With souls you'd dispense --- but this last who could bear
His religion to please neither party is made,
On husbands 'tis hard, to the wives most uncivil;
But I can't contradict what so oft has been said,
"Though women are angels, yet wedlock's the devil."
This terrible truth, even Scripture has told,
Ye Benedicks ! hear me, and listen with rapture;
If a glimpse of redemption you wish to behold,
Of St. MATT. --- read the second and twentieth chapter.
'Tis surely enough upon earth to be vex'd,
With wives who eternal confusion are spreading;
"But in Heaven" ( so runs the Evangelist's Text, )
"We neither have giving in marriage, or wedding."
From this we suppose, ( as indeed well we may, )
That should Saints after death, with their spouses put up more,
And wives, as in life, aim at absolute sway,
All Heaven would ring with the conjugal uproar.
Distraction and discord would follow in course,
Nor Matthew, nor Mark, nor St. Paul, can deny it,
The only expedient is general divorce,
To prevent universal disturbance and riot.
But though husband and wife, shall at length be disjoin'd
Yet woman and man ne'er were meant to dissever,
Our chains once dissolv'd, and our hearts unconfin'd,
We'll love without bonds, but we'll love you forever.
Though souls are denied you by fools and by rakes,
Should you own it yourselves, I would even then doubt you,
Your nature so much of celestial partakes,
The Garden of Eden would wither without you.