I did but look and love awhile,
'Twas but for one half hour;
Then to resist I had no will,
And now I have no power.

To sigh and wish is all my ease;
Sighs which do heat impart
Enough to melt the coldest ice,
Yet cannot warm your heart.

O would your pity give my heart
One corner of your breast,
'Twould learn of yours the winning art,
And quickly steal the rest.

- Thomas Otway


Otway was primarily a playwright in the wild hedonism of Restoration London, and the whole of his writing career took place between 1672, his twentieth year, and his death in 1685. His muse, Elizabeth Barry, was one of the biggest stars of her time. Although she acted in most of Otway's plays (and rescued them from failure, by some accounts, with her superlative acting skill), she preferred her much wealthier and more powerful lover the Earl of Rochester. Perhaps this elegant little poem is to her address.


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