Some related facts, when juxtaposed, form the most absurd counterpoints. Take love poetry, for example – most of it written by men; now compare this with how most men speak of and treat women. If you’re a woman, you’ll be only too acutely aware of the discrepancies. Some of us to the extent of feeling decidedly vengeful, even if only in our imaginations. So I often wonder what they might say if asked for their views, those women the poets so lauded, resented, longed-for, sneered at …
As the Italians advise revenge is a dish best eaten cold, here – without further ado and from their cloud up there (where it is extremely chilly albeit not so they’d notice) – are some female subjects of romantic verse indulging in a fine feast of cold collations:
Coy Mistress: Honestly, all that … guff – just to tell me that people can’t shag once they’re dead! Did he not think I could have worked that one out for myself?
The Dark Lady: [sighs] They never do … I believe many of them cannot quite countenance the notion that we have intellects of our own as well as emotions and sensations.
Celia: [sharply] … and minds that function as well as do theirs.
[All nod vigorously]
Celia: It’s the pointing out of the astonishingly, blindingly obvious all the time that consigns my spirit unto the very depths.
Coy Mistress: And nearly always after the event, too – thus revealing themselves to be pointless as well as useless.
Lucasta: [gloomily] Me, it’s the denigration by humour that does it.
All: You what?
Lucasta: Oh come on, ladies, you know what I mean. Essentially, it comprises the usage of the old ‘thou art witless’ gambit.
Lucasta: It goes like this: in company, he calls you a brainless bovine. Wounded, you say‘that is unkind as well as untrue’. Then he enquires ‘what ails thee, shrew, hast thou no sense of merriment?’ and saunters off sniggering, having shown his superiority to our sex and greatly amused his companions.
All: Oh, that one. Yes!
Coy Mistress: That’s something else they do after you’ve refused to let them bed you.
The Dark Lady: Weren’t you tempted at all?
Coy Mistress: Don’t make me laugh! ‘Vegetable love’ indeed! And have you had a
good look at him? Well, fine – I grant you, not too bad looking;but my dear, penniless! There’s no substitute for brass in bank and a nice little property, love. That’s what you hold out for, tha knows.
The Dark Lady: [shrugs] Of course, but once these things are secured, there are … ways.
Lucasta: You’re both correct, of course. [Blushes and bows her head] Oh, how I wish I’d considered further!
Celia: [shocked] Lucasta! You didn’t?
The Dark Lady: Any good? I’ve often wondered about those cavalier types. I mean, they look the part …
Lucasta: [dramatically] Brutish! And such scant time devoted to the act!
Coy Mistress: Pity; but you were letting the side down a bit, lass, sithee.
The Dark Lady: Still, wartime [she pats Lucasta’s arm]. Really, you shouldn’t
feel shamed by it – it was a generous gesture by any reckoning.
Celia: Yeees, I suppose you’re right.
The Dark Lady: At least people know for certain sure the name of he who wrote of you.
All: Poor old Willie Shakescene!
The Dark Lady: How can they doubt him, versatile rogue that he was? The Earl of Oxford, indeed [chuckles], the very idea of it – really!
[All laugh uproariously]
Celia: [[glumly] Alas, there exists no doubt whatsoever as to the name of he who spoke of me in such horrid scatological terms.
All: Jonathan Swift: wanker!
Coy Mistress: [grinning] As for that Andrew Marvell –
The Dark Lady: Enough, already!
[All smile and nod]
Lucasta: I wouldn’t mind – such willing self-sacrifice is its own reward; but after all that it was my cousin, Honor, he said he loved the more.
All: Richard Lovelace: bastard!
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