The Wanton Chloe--A Pastoral

A poem by John Clare

Young Chloe looks sweet as the rose,
And her love might be reckoned no less,
But her bosom so freely bestows
That all may a portion possess.
Her smiles would be cheering to see,
But so freely they're lavished abroad
That each silly swain, like to me,
Can boast what the wanton bestowed.

Her looks and her kisses so free
Are for all, like the rain and the sky;
As the blossom love is to the bee,
Each swain is as welcome as I.
And though I my folly can see,
Yet still must I love and adore,
Though I know the love whispered to me
Has been told to so many before.

'T is sad that a bosom so fair,
And soft lips so seemingly sweet,
Should study false ways, to ensnare,
And breathe in their kisses deceit.
But beauty's no guide to the best:
The rose, that out-blushes the morn,
While it tempts the glad eye to its breast,
Will pierce the fond hand with a thorn.

Yet still must I love, silly swain!
And put up with all her deceit,
And try to be jealous, in vain,
For I cannot help thinking her sweet.
I see other swains in her bower,
And I sigh, and excuse what I see,
While I say to myself, "Is the flower
Any worse when it's kissed by the bee?"

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