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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

To a Lady

By Matthew Prior (1664–1721)

She Refusing to Continue a Dispute with Me, and Leaving Me in the Argument

SPARE, generous Victor, spare the slave,

Who did unequal war pursue;

That more than triumph he might have,

In being overcome by you.

In the dispute whate’er I said,

My heart was by my tongue belied;

And in my looks you might have read

How much I argued on your side.

You, far from danger as from fear,

Might have sustained an open fight:

For seldom your opinions err;

Your eyes are always in the right.

Why, fair one, would you not rely

On Reason’s force with Beauty’s joined?

Could I their prevalence deny,

I must at once be deaf and blind.

Alas! not hoping to subdue,

I only to the fight aspired;

To keep the beauteous foe in view

Was all the glory I desired.

But she, howe’er of victory sure,

Contemns the wreath too long delayed;

And armed with more immediate power,

Calls cruel silence to her aid.

Deeper to wound, she shuns the fight;

She drops her arms, to gain the field;

Secures her conquest by her flight,

And triumphs when she seems to yield.

So when the Parthian turned his steed,

And from the hostile camp withdrew,

With cruel skill the backward reed

He sent; and as he fled he slew.