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MATTHEW PRIOR
English poet and diplomat
(1664 - 1721)
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They say . . .
  That, putting all his words together,
    'Tis three blue beans in one blue bladder.
      - Alma (canto I, l. 26) [Words]

His noble negligences teach
  What others' toils despair to reach.
      - Alma (canto II, l. 7) [Neglect]

He, perfect dancer, climbs the rope,
  And balances your fear and hope.
      - Alma (canto II, l. 9) [Dancing]

In argument
  Similes are like songs in love:
    They must describe; they nothing prove.
      - Alma (canto III) [Argument]

My copper-lamps, at any rate,
  For being true antique, I bought;
    Yet wisely melted down my plate,
      On modern models to be wrought;
        And trifles I alike pursue,
          Because they're old, because they're new.
      - Alma (canto III) [Antiquity]

Till their own dreams at length deceive 'em
  And oft repeating, they believe 'em.
      - Alma (canto III, l. 13) [Dreams]

When people once are in the wrong,
  Each line they add is much too long;
    Who fastest walks, but walks astray,
      Is only furthest from his way.
      - Alma (canto III, l. 194) [Error]

You tell your doctor, that y' are ill
  And what does he, but write a bill,
    Of which you need not read one letter,
      The worse the scrawl, the dose the better.
        For if you knew but what you take,
          Though you recover, he must break.
      - Alma (canto III, l. 97) [Medicine]

So, if unprejudiced you scan
  The going of this clock-work, man,
    You find a hundred movements made
      By fine devices in his head;
        But 'tis the stomach's solid stroke
          That tells his being what's o'clock.
      - Alma (pt. III, l. 272) [Man]

Be to her virtues very kind;
  Be to her faults a little blind.
    Let all her ways be unconfin'd;
      And clap your padlock--on her mind.
      - An English Padlock [Women]

All jargon of the schools.
      - An Ode on Exodus III, 14,
        "I am that I am." [Teaching]

Ere on thy chin the springing beard began
  To spread a doubtful down, and promise man.
      - An Ode to the Memory of the Honourable Colonel George Villiers
         (l. 5) [Hair]

Serene yet strong, majestic yet sedate,
  Swift without violence, without terror great.
      - Carmen Seculare (l. 200),
        imitation of Denham [Thames River]

And when the parent-rose decays and dies,
  With a resembling face the daughter-buds arise.
      - Celia to Damon [Roses]

Soft peace she brings, wherever she arrives:
  She builds our quiet, as she forms our lives:
    Lays the rough paths of peevish Nature even,
      And opens in each heart a little Heaven.
      - Charity [Charity]

The gray mare will prove the better horse.
      - Epilogue to Lucius (last line) [Women]

One single positive weighs more,
  You know, than negatives a score.
      - Epistle to Fleetwood Shepherd [Argument]

'Tis not how well an author says,
  But 'tis how much, that gathers praise.
      - Epistle to Fleetwood Shepherd [Authorship]

Ev'n so, with all submission, I
  . . . .
    Send you each year a homely letter,
      Who may return me much a better.
      - Epistle to Fleetwood Shepherd (l. 23)
        [Post]

No man's defects sought they to know;
  So never made themselves a foe.
    No man's good deeds did they commend;
      So never rais'd themselves a friend.
      - Epitaph [Character]

Heralds and statesman, by your leave,
  Here lies what once was Matthew Prior;
    The son of Adam and of Eve;
      Can Bourbon or Nassau go higher?
      - Epitaph--Extempore [Epitaphs]

That if weak women went astray,
  Their stars were more in fault than they.
      - Hans Carvel [Women]

The end must justify the means.
      - Hans Carvel (l. 67) [End]

And oft the pangs of absence to remove
  By letters, soft interpreters of love.
      - Henry and Emma (l. 147) [Post]

Timely advis'd, the coming evil shun:
  Better not do the deed, than weep it done.
      - Henry and Emma (l. 308) [Evil]


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