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  4. When Lovely Woman Stoops to Folly by Oliver Goldsmith
When Lovely Woman Stoops to Folly

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When lovely woman stoops to folly,
And finds too late that men betray,
What charm can sooth her melancholy,
What art can wash her guilt away?

The only art her guilt to cover,
To hide her shame from every eye,
To give repentance to her lover,
And wring his bosom—is to die.


Source: Norton Anthology of Poetry (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2005)
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When Lovely Woman Stoops to Folly

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  • An essayist, novelist, poet, and playwright, Goldsmith was born in Kilkenny West, County Westmeath, Ireland. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, and studied medicine in Edinburgh but never received a medical degree. He traveled to Europe in 1756 and eventually settled in London. He worked as a writer and was friends with the artistic and literary luminaries of the time, including Samuel Johnson, James Boswell, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Edmund Burke.

    Goldsmith is author of the essay collection The Citizen of the World (1762), the novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), the plays The Good Natur’d Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1773), and the poetry collections Traveller, or, a Prospect of Society (1764), An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog (1766), and The Deserted Village: A Poem (1770).

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