Sir John Suckling – 6 ( “The Deformed Mistress”)

The Ugly Duchess – Quentin Matsys,  c. 1513, oil on wood 64.2 cm x 45.5 cm, National Gallery, London

Allen’s notes on John Suckling continue and conclude

AG: And then the last…  then there are two other poems that are worth checking out – “The Deformed Mistress” ( this is written by the handsomest man of his age, and the richest) – “I know there are some fools…” – (it’s like there’s a line in (W.H.) Auden –  “Tell then of witty angels who/Come only to the beasts/ Of Heirs Apparent, who prefer/ Low dives to formal feasts;/For shameless Insecurity craves for a boot to lick/And many a sore bottom finds/A sorer one to kick” – (from “The Sea and the Mirror” by Auden) – So there’s that ” Tell then of witty angels who/Come only to the beasts/ Of Heirs Apparent, who prefer/ Low dives to formal feasts – “The Deformed Mistress” by (Sir John) Suckling

“I know there are some fools that care/Not for the body, so the face be fair/Some others, too, that in a female creature/Respect not beauty, but a comely feature;/And others, too, that for those parts in sight/Care not so much, so that the rest be right./Each man his humour hath, and, faith, ’tis mine/To love that woman which I now define.

First I would have her wainscot foot and hand/More wrinkled far than any pleated band,
That in those furrows, if I’d take the pains,/I might both sow and reap all sorts of grains:/Her nose I’d have a foot long, not above,/With pimples embroider’d, for those I love;/And at the end a comely pearl of snot,/Considering whether it should fall or not”  [“And at the end a comely pearl of snot,/Considering..”  (the snot itself considering)  “Considering whether it should fall or not”]

“Provided, next, that half her teeth be out,/Nor do I care much if her pretty snout/Meet with her furrow’d chin, and both together/Hem in her lips, as dry as good whit-leather:/One wall-eye she shall have, for that’s a sign/In other beasts the best: why not in mine?/Her neck I’ll have to be pure jet at least,/With yellow spots enamell’d; and her breast,/Like a grasshopper’s wing, both thin and lean,/Not to be toucht for dirt, unless swept clean..” – [“Not to be toucht for dirt, unless swept clean:”]

“As for her belly, ’tis no matter, so/There be a belly, and  a cunt below/Yet, if you will, let it be something high,/And always let there be a timpany./But soft! where am I now? here I should stride,/Lest I fall in, the place must be so wide,/And pass unto her thighs, which shall be just/Like to an ant’s that’s scraping in the dust:/Into her legs I’d have love’s issues fall,/And all her calf into a gouty small:/Her foot both thick and eagle-like display’d,/The symptoms of a comely, handsome maid./As for her parts behind, I ask no more:/If they but answer those that are before,/I have my utmost wish; and, having so,/Judge whether I am happy, yea or no.”

No wonder he suffered incredible tortures!.. That’s called “The Deformed Mistress”.

And then a companion piece to that is his little poem on a candle – (so you can imagine what Suckling would say about the candle in those days – he knew all about everything!)

“There is a thing which in the light/Is seldom used, but in the night/ It serves the maiden female crew,/The ladies, and the good-wives too./They use to take it in their hand,/And then it will uprightly stand;/And to a hole they it apply,/Where by its goodwill it would die;/It spends, goes out, and still within/ It leaves its moisture thick and thin.”

So that’s dear John Suckling!

[Audio for the above can be heard  here, beginning at approximately nineteen-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-three-and-a-half minutes in]

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