A Song of a Young Lady to Her Ancient Lover

By John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 1647–1680 John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Ancient person, for whom I
All the flattering youth defy,
Long be it ere thou grow old,
Aching, shaking, crazy, cold;
   But still continue as thou art,
   Ancient person of my heart.

On thy withered lips and dry,
Which like barren furrows lie,
Brooding kisses I will pour
Shall thy youthful [heat] restore
(Such kind showers in autumn fall,
And a second spring recall);
   Nor from thee will ever part,
   Ancient person of my heart.

Thy nobler part, which but to name
In our sex would be counted shame,
By age’s frozen grasp possessed,
From [his] ice shall be released,
And soothed by my reviving hand,
In former warmth and vigor stand.
All a lover’s wish can reach
For thy joy my love shall teach,
And for they pleasure shall improve
All that art can add to love.
   Yet still I love thee without art,
   Ancient person of my heart.

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Poet John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 1647–1680

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Love, Desire

Biography

John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester and Baron of Adderbury in England, Viscount Athlone in Ireland, infamous in his time for his life and works and admired for his deathbed performance, was the cynosure of the libertine wits of Restoration England. He was anathematized as evil incarnate and simultaneously adored for his seraphic presence, beauty, and wit, even from his first appearance at the court of Charles II. This . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Desire

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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