To A Child Of Quality, Five Years Old, The Author Suppos'D Forty

Lords, knights, and squires, the num'rous band,
That wear the fair Miss Mary's fetters,
Were summon'd by her high command,
To show their passions by their letters.

My pen amongst the rest I took,
Lest those bright eyes that cannot read
Should dart their kindling fires, and look
The pow'r they have to be obey'd.

Nor quality, nor reputation,
Forbid me yet my flame to tell,
Dear Five-years-old befriends my passion,
And I may write till she can spell.

For while she makes her silk-worms beds
With all the tender things I swear;
Whilst all the house my passion reads,
In papers round her baby's hair;

She may receive and own my flame,
For though the strictest prudes should know it,
She'll pass for a most virtuous dame,
And I for an unhappy poet.

Then too, alas! when she shall tear
The lines some younger rival sends;
She'll give me leave to write, I fear,
And we shall still continue friends.

For as our different ages move,
'Tis so ordain'd (would Fate but mend it)
That I shall be past making love,
When she begins to comprehend it.

by Matthew Prior

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