TO A MAN THAT LOCKED UP HIS WIFE
Ovid's Amours -- Book 3, Elegy 4
Sir Charles Sedley
NOTE: Sir Charles Sedley, 5th Baronet (1639 – 1701 ) was a poet, dramatist and politician.
Vex not thyself and her, vain man, since all
By their own vice or virtue stand or fall.
She’s truly chaste, and worthy of that name,
Who hates the ill, as well as fears the shame
And that vile woman whom restraint keeps in,
Though she forbear the act, has done the sin.
Spies, locks and bolts may keep her brutal part,
But thou’rt an odious cuckold in her heart.
They that have freedom use it least, and so
The power of ill does the design o’er throw.
Provoke not vice by a too harsh restraint,
Sick men long most to drink, who know thy may’nt.
The fiery courser, whom no art can stay
Or rugged force, does oft fair means obey:
And he that did the rudest arm disdain,
Submits with quiet to the looser rein.
An hundred eyes had Argos, yet the while
One silly maid did all those eys beguile.
Danae, though shut within a brazen tower,
Felt the male virtue of the golden shower:
But chaste Penelope, left to her own will
And free disposal, never thought of ill;
She to her absent lord preserv’d her truth,
For all th’ addresses of the smoother youth.
What’s rarely seen, our fancy magnifies,
Permitted pleasure who does not despise?
Thy care provokes beyond her face, and more
Men strive to make the cockold, than the whore.
They’re wondrous charm we think, and long to know,
That in a wife enchant a husband so:
Rage, swear and curse, no matter, she alone
Pleases, who sighs and cries, I am undone:
But could thy spies say we have kept her chaste?
Good servants then, but an ill wife thou hast.
Who fears to be a cuckold is a clown,
Not worthy to partake of this lewd town.
Where it is monstrous to be fair, and chaste,
And not one inch of either sex lies waste.
Wouldst thou be happy? With her ways comply,
And in her case lay points of honour by;
The friendship she begins wisely improve,
And a fair wife gets one a world of love
So shalt thou welcome be to every treat
Live high, not pay, and never run in debt.
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