The Headache

By Mary Leapor

Aurelia, when your zeal makes known
Each woman’s failing but your own,
How charming Silvia’s teeth decay,
And Celia’s hair is turning grey;
Yet Celia gay has sparkling eyes,
But (to your comfort) is not wise:
Methinks you take a world of pains
To tell us Celia has no brains.

Now you wise folk, who make such a pother
About the wit of one another,
With pleasure would your brains resign,
Did all your noddles ache like mine.

Not cuckolds half my anguish know,
When budding horns begin to grow;
Nor battered skull of wrestling Dick,
Who late was drubbed at single-stick;
Nor wretches that in fevers fry,
Not Sappho when her cap’s awry,
E’er felt such torturing pangs as I;
Not forehead of Sir Jeffrey Strife,
When smiling Cynthio kissed his wife.

Not lovesick Marcia’s languid eyes,
Who for her simpering Corin dies,
So sleepy look or dimly shine,
As these dejected eyes of mine:
Not Claudia’s brow such wrinkles made
At sight of Cynthia’s new brocade.

Just so, Aurelia, you complain
Of vapours, rheums, and gouty pain;
Yet I am patient, so should you,
For cramps and headaches are our due:
We suffer justly for our crimes,
For scandal you, and I for rhymes;
Yet we (as hardened wretches do)
Still the enchanting vice pursue;
Our reformation ne’er begin,
But fondly hug the darling sin.

Yet there’s a might difference too
Between the fate of me and you;
Though you with tottering age shall bow,
And wrinkles scar your lovely brow,
Your busy tongue may still proclaim
The faults of every sinful dame:
You still may prattle nor give o’er,
When wretched I must sin no more.
The sprightly Nine must leave me then,
This trembling hand resign its pen:
No matron ever sweetly sung,
Apollo only courts the young.
Then who would not (Aurelia, pray)
Enjoy his favours while they may?
Nor cramps nor headaches shall prevail:
I’ll still write on, and you shall rail.