To Lysander

By Aphra Behn 1640–1689 Aphra Behn

(On some Verses he writ, and asking more for his Heart than ‘twas worth.)

Take back that Heart, you with such Caution give,
    Take the fond valu’d Trifle back;
I hate Love-Merchants that a Trade wou’d drive
    And meanly cunning Bargains make.

I care not how the busy Market goes,
   And scorn to Chaffer for a price:
Love does one Staple Rate on all impose,
   Nor leaves it to the Trader’s Choice.

A Heart requires a Heart Unfeign’d and True,
    Though Subt’ly you advance the Price,
And ask a Rate that Simple Love ne’er knew:
    And the free Trade Monopolize.

An humble Slave the Buyer must become,
    She must not bate a Look or Glance
You will have all or you’ll have none;
    See how Love’s Market you inhance.

Is’t not enough, I gave you Heart for Heart,
    But I must add my Lips and Eies;
I must no friendly Smile or Kiss impart;
    But you must Dun me with Advice.
And every Hour still more unjust you grow,
   Those Freedoms you my life deny,
You to Adraste are oblig’d to show,
   And giver her all my Rifled Joy.
Without Controul she gazes on that Face,
   And all the happy Envyed Night,
In the pleas’d Circle of your fond imbrace:
   She takes away the Lovers Right.
From me she Ravishes those silent hours,
   That are by Sacred Love my due;
Whilst I in vain accuse the angry Powers,
   That make me hopeless Love pursue.
Adrastes Ears with that dear Voice are blest,
   That Charms my Soul at every Sound,
And with those Love-Inchanting Touches prest:
   Which I ne’er felt without a Wound.
She has thee all: whilst I with silent Greif,
   The Fragments of they Softness feel,
Yet dare not blame the happy licenc’d Thief:
   That does my Dear-bought Pleasures steal.
Whilst like a Glimering Taper still I burn,
   And waste my self in my own flame,
Adraste takes the welcome rich Return:
   And leaves me all the hopeless Pain.

Be just, my lovely Swain, and do not take
   Freedoms you’ll not to me allow;
Or give Amynta so much Freedom back:
   That she may Rove as well as you.
Let us then love upon the honest Square,
   Since Interest neither have design’d,
For the sly Gamester, who ne’er plays me fair,
   Must Trick for Trick expect to find.                     

Source: The Poems of Aphra Behn: A Selection. (New York University Press, 1994)

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Poet Aphra Behn 1640–1689


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Love, Realistic & Complicated

 Aphra  Behn


Aphra Behn, one of the most influential dramatists of the late seventeenth century, was also a celebrated poet and novelist. Her contemporary reputation was founded primarily on her "scandalous" plays, which she claimed would not have been criticized for impropriety had a man written them. Behn's assertion of her unique role in English literary history is confirmed not only by the extraordinary circumstances of her writings, but . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Realistic & Complicated


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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