Jonathan Swift

30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745 / Dublin

Daphne

Daphne knows, with equal ease,
How to vex, and how to please;
But the folly of her sex
Makes her sole delight to vex.
Never woman more devised
Surer ways to be despised;
Paradoxes weakly wielding,
Always conquer'd, never yielding.
To dispute, her chief delight,
Without one opinion right:
Thick her arguments she lays on,
And with cavils combats reason;
Answers in decisive way,
Never hears what you can say;
Still her odd perverseness shows
Chiefly where she nothing knows;
And, where she is most familiar,
Always peevisher and sillier;
All her spirits in a flame
When she knows she's most to blame.
Send me hence ten thousand miles,
From a face that always smiles:
None could ever act that part,
But a fury in her heart.
Ye who hate such inconsistence,
To be easy, keep your distance:
Or in folly still befriend her,
But have no concern to mend her;
Lose not time to contradict her,
Nor endeavour to convict her.
Never take it in your thought,
That she'll own, or cure a fault.
Into contradiction warm her,
Then, perhaps, you may reform her:
Only take this rule along,
Always to advise her wrong;
And reprove her when she's right;
She may then grow wise for spight.
No—that scheme will ne'er succeed,
She has better learnt her creed;
She's too cunning and too skilful,
When to yield, and when be wilful.
Nature holds her forth two mirrors,
One for truth, and one for errors:
That looks hideous, fierce, and frightful;
This is flattering and delightful:
That she throws away as foul;
Sits by this to dress her soul.
Thus you have the case in view,
Daphne, 'twixt the Dean and you:
Heaven forbid he should despise thee,
But he'll never more advise thee.
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