Sex and Humour

Time for another of my poetry pastiches, perhaps?

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-80), became notorious as a leading member of the group of rakes and “court wits” surrounding Charles II.  In Samuel Johnson’s words, he “blazed out his youth and health in lavish voluptuousness” and died at the age of thirty-three.  In the 2004 feature film “The Libertine”, the part of Rochester was, unsurprisingly, played by Johnny Depp.  His early death was also, however, lamented by lovers of literature, as he had become one of the foremost poets of the age.

The Oxford Companion to English Literature comments: “He wrote more frankly about sex than anyone in English before the 20th cent., and is one of the most witty poets in the language”.  “A Song of a Young Lady to Her Ancient Lover” is one of his best-known poems, and exemplifies his wry wit.  For my pastiche version, I simply inverted the main idea behind the poem; so mine is the “Song of a Middle-Aged Man to his Young Lover”.  Poems about sex are comparitively rare in our language, and even rarer are those imbued with humour.  I hope Rochester would at least have tolerated the attempt at humour in my pastiche.

Here is Rochester’s original:

A Song of a Young Lady to Her Ancient Lover:

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 thy pleasure shall improve
all that art can add to love.
Yet still I love thee without art,
ancient person of my heart.

And my pastiche:

A Song of a Middle-Aged Man to His Young Lover:

Beauteous maiden, you and I
the dizzying gulf in years deny.
The hectic flush of youth I cherish;
I dread the day when it may perish.
Pray, continue as thou art,
beauteous maiden of my heart.

Thy tender bosom’s lissom tips
will blossom, ‘neath my practised lips.
Your pulse vibrates, your juices flow,
your skin attains a roseate glow.
Thus, lovemaking becomes an an art,
beauteous maiden of my heart.

I bring to our love consideration
unknown to a younger generation.
My expert hand, my seasoned skills,
will vouchsafe pleasure, banish ills.
All this, and more, I will impart,
beauteous maiden of my heart.







Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Sex and Humour

  1. thepeoplecollector

    I think I love you. Irreverent pastiches, complete with roseate flushing…

    I’m imagining this sung in some contrived Dire Straits fashion, complete with noir mis en scene and a four-stringed guitar.

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