Town Eclogues: Monday; Roxana or the Drawing-Room

By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 1689–1762 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
ROXANA from the court retiring late,
Sigh'd her soft sorrows at St. JAMES's gate:
Such heavy thoughts lay brooding in her breast,
Not her own chairmen wth more weight opprest;
They groan the cruel load they're doom'd to bear ;
She in these gentler sounds express'd her care.

" Was it for this, that I these Roses wear,
" For this new-set my Jewels for my hair ?
" Ah ! Princess ! with what zeal have I pursu'd !
" Almost forgot the duty of a Prude.
" Thinking I never cou'd attend too soon,
" I've miss'd my prayers, to get me dress'd by noon.
" For Thee, ah ! what for Thee did I resign ?
" My Pleasures, Passions, all that e'er was mine.
" I sacrific'd both Modesty and Ease,
" Left Operas, and went to filthy Plays ;
" Double entendres shock'd my tender ear,
" Yet even this for Thee I chose to bear.
" In glowing youth, when nature bids be gay,
" And ev'ry joy of life before me lay,
" By honour prompted, and by pride restrain'd,
" The pleasures of the young my soul disdain'd :
" Sermons I sought, and with a mien severe
" Censur'd my neighbours, and said daily pray'r.
" Alas ! how chang'd! — with the same sermon mien
" That once I pray'd, the What-d'ye call't I've seen.
" Ah ! cruel Princess, for thy sake I've lost
" That reputation which so dear had cost :
" I, who avoided ev'ry publick place,
" When bloom, and beauty bid me show my face ;
" Now near Thee constant ev'ry night abide
" With never-failing duty by thy side,
" Myself and daughters standing on a row,
" To all the foreigners a goodly show !
" Oft had your drawing-room been sadly thin,
" And merchants wives close by the chair had been seen ;
" Had not I amply fill'd the empty space,
" And sav'd your Highness from the dire disgrace.

" Yet COQUETILLA's artifice prevails,
" When all my merit and my duty fails :
" That COQUETILLA, whose deluding airs
" Corrupts our virgins, and our youth ensnares ;
" So sunk her character, so lost her fame,
" Scarce visited before your Highness came ;
" Yet for the Bed-chamber 'tis Her you chuse,
" When Zeal and Fame and Virtue you refuse.
" Ah ! worthy choice ! not one of all your train
" Whom censure blasts not, and dishonours stain.
" Let the nice hind now suckle dirty pigs,
" And the proud pea-hen snatch the cuckoo's eggs !
" Let IRIS leave her paint, and own her age,
" And grave SUFFOLKIA wed a giddy page !
" A greater miracle is daily view'd,
" A virtuous Princess with a court so lewd.

" I know thee, Court ! with all thy treach'rous wiles,
" Thy false caresses and undoing smiles !
" Ah ! Princess, learn'd in all the courtly arts
" To cheat our hopes, and yet to gain our hearts.

" Large lovely bribes are the great statesman's aim ;
" And the neglected patriot follows fame.
" The Prince is ogled ; some the King pursue ;
" But your ROXANA only follows YOU.
" Despis'd ROXANA, cease, and try to find
" Some other, since the Princess proves unkind :
" Perhaps it is not hard to find at court
" If not a greater, a more firm support.

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Poet Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 1689–1762



Subjects Class, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries

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 Lady Mary Wortley  Montagu


Best known as a letter writer, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote verses all her life and frequently referred to herself as a "poet." From the young girl, as she later described herself, "trespassing" in Latin and Greek sources to the old woman haunted "by the Daemon of Poesie" (as quoted by Isobel Grundy in Essays and Poems, 1977), Montagu repeatedly turned to the forms of Augustan verse—satires, verse epistles, mock epics, . . .

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SUBJECT Class, Arts & Sciences, Humor & Satire, Social Commentaries



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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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