Oh, How the Hand the Lover Ought to Prize

By Aphra Behn 1640–1689 Aphra Behn
Oh, how the hand the lover ought to prize
    ’Bove any one peculiar grace!
While he is dying for the eyes
    And doting on the lovely face,
The unconsid’ring little knows
How much he to this beauty owes.

That, when the lover absent is,
    Informs him of his mistress’ heart;
’Tis that which gives him all his bliss
    When dear love-secrets ’twill impart:
That plights the faith the maid bestows,
And that confirms the tim’rous vows.

’Tis that betrays the tenderness
    Which the too bashful tongue denies;
’Tis that which does the heart confess,
    And spares the language of the eyes;
’Tis that which treasure gives so vast,
Ev’n Iris ’twill to Damon give at last.

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Poet Aphra Behn 1640–1689


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Love, Romantic 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 . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Romantic Love


SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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