from To Alexis In Answer to His Poem Against Fruition

By Aphra Behn 1640–1689 Aphra Behn
Since man with that inconstancy was born,
To love the absent, and the present scorn
    Why do we deck, why do we dress
    For such short-lived happiness?
    Why do we put attraction on,
Since either way ’tis we must be undone?

    They fly if honour take our part,
    Our virtue drives ’em o’er the field.
    We love ’em by too much desert,
    And oh! they fly us if we yield.
Ye gods! is there no charm in all the fair
To fix this wild, this faithless wanderer?

    Man! our great business and our aim,
    For whom we spread our fruitless snares,
No sooner kindles the designing flame,
    But to the next bright object bears
The trophies of his conquest and our shame:
    Inconstancy’s the good supreme
The rest is airy notion, empty dream!

    Then heedless nymph, be rul’d by me
    If e’re your swain the bliss desire;
          Think like Alexis he may be
          Whose wisht possession damps his fire;
          The roving youth in every shade
Has left some sighing and abandon’d maid,
For ’tis a fatal lesson he has learn’d,
After fruition ne’er to be concern’d.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Aphra Behn 1640–1689


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Love, Unrequited Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love

 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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Unrequited Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.