Libertine Poetry — History Is Full of Humans Just Like Us

We commonly get questions — usually from a wife — about “weird” things her husband wants to in bed. Where did my husband get this crazy idea?

Well, as you know, humans have been having sex for a long time, and no matter how strict the rules are we’ve always been kinky. I recently listened to an episode of the Ask Historians podcast about libertine literature, and it mentioned a poem that I wanted to share titled “The Imperfect Enjoyment” from 17th century libertine writer John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. (You can see a portrait of him above — he’s hot for his time!) Rochester is frustrated by his own premature ejaculation, and has written this poem to curse at his penis for failing. An excerpt:

When, with a thousand kisses wandering o’er
My panting bosom, “Is there then no more?”
She cries. “All this to love and rapture’s due;
Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?”
But I, the most forlorn, lost man alive,
To show my wished obedience vainly strive:
I sigh, alas! and kiss, but cannot swive.
Eager desires confound my first intent,
Succeeding shame does more success prevent,
And rage at last confirms me impotent.
Ev’n her fair hand, which might bid heat return
To frozen age, and make cold hermits burn,
Applied to my dear cinder, warms no more
Than fire to ashes could past flames restore.
Trembling, confused, despairing, limber, dry,
A wishing, weak, unmoving lump I lie.

The poem is funny and poignantly humanizing. It’s easy to forget that our ancestors were as human as we are. The libertines are certainly not to be emulated in their philosophy, but why should they get to have better sex lives than married Christians? No way!

Do you have any sexy poetry to share? Leave a link in the comments.

3 comments

  1. There are suspicions he died from complications due to syphilis or gonorrhea, so that may be the source of the issues in this poem 😀

    1. Yes, Rochester died young, probably due to consequences of his libertine ways! Like I said, not good to emulate.

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