Here at Man Versus Poetry, I insist on surprising you with the unexpected. When I discovered a slim Penguin Classics edition of the selected works of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, several years ago, I became an immediate devotee.
Eloquent smuttiness, vigorously coupled with scathing, satirical wit — that’s John Wilmot. Here’s just a brief sample of his Lordship’s nastiness. Keep in mind that this was written in the 1600s! (Footnote: The phrase “in time of flowers” refers to menstral discharge.)
By all love’s soft, yet mighty powers,
It is a thing unfit,
That men should fuck in time of flowers,
Or when the smock’s beshit.
Fair nasty nymph, be clean and kind,
And all my joys restore;
By using paper still behind,
And sponges for before.
My spotless flames can ne’er decay,
If after every close,
My smoking prick escape the fray,
Without a bloody nose.
If thou would have me true, be wise,
And take to cleanly sinning,
None but fresh lovers’ pricks can rise,
At Phyllis in foul linen.
Coming soon (a bit too soon!) – The Imperfect Enjoyment, in which Lord Rochester curses his member for betraying him in his hour of need. A poem of dismay, hilarity, and premature ejaculation.