Tag Archives: dialogue

Margaret Cavendish, “A Dialogue betwixt Wit and Beauty”


 A Dialogue betwixt Wit and Beauty”

Mixt Rose and Lilly, why are you so proud,
Since Fair is not in all Minds like allow’d?
Some do like Black, some Brown, and some like White;
Some Eyes in all Complexions take delight.
Nor doth one Beauty in the World still reign;                                    5
For Beauty is created in the Brain.
But, say there were a Body perfect made,
Complexion pure, by Nature’s Pencil laid;
A Countenance, where all sweet Spirits meet;
A Hair that’s thick, and long, curl’d to the Feet:                                   10
Yet, were it like a Statue made of Stone,
The Eye would weary grow to look upon:
Had it no Wit, the Mind still to delight,
It soon would weary be, as well as Sight.
For, Wit is fresh and new, doth sport and play;                                  15
And runs about the Humour every way.
With all the Passions, Wit can well agree;
Wit tempers them, and makes them pleas’d to be.
Ingenious ‘tis, doth new Inventions find,
To ease the Body, and divert the Mind.                                                 20
When I appear, I strike the Optick Nerve;
I wound the Heart, and make the Passions serve.
Souls are my Pris’ners, yet do love me well:
My Company is Heav’n, my Absence Hell.
Each Knee doth bow to me, as to a Shrine;                                          25
And all the World accounts me as Divine.
      Beauty, you cannot long Devotion keep;
The Mind grows weary, Senses fall asleep:
As those which in the House of God do go,
Are very Zealous in a Pray’r or two;                                                       30
But, if they must an Hour-long kneel to pray,
Their Zeal grows cold, nor know they what they say:
So Admirations are, they do not last;
After Nine days, the greatest Wonder’s past.
The Mind, as th’ Senses all, delights in change;                                      35
They nothing love, but what is new and strange.
But subtil Wit, can please both long, and well:
For, to the Ear, Wit a new Tale can tell.
And, for the Tast, doth dress Meat several ways.
To th’ Eye, it can new Forms and Fashions raise.                                   40
And for the Touch, Wit spins both Silk and Wool,
Invents new ways, to keep Touch warm, and cool.
For Scent, Wit Mixtures and Compounds doth make,
That still the Nose, a fresh new Smell may take.
I, by Discourse, can represent the Mind                                                   45
With several Objects, though the Eyes be blind.
I’th’ Brain I can create Idea’s, and
Those make to th’ Mind seem real, though but feign’d.
The Mind’s a Shop, where sorts of Toys I sell;
With fine Conceits, I fit all Humours well.                                                 50
I can the Work of Nature imitate,
And, in the Brain, each several Shape create.
I Conquer all, am Master of the Field,
And make fair Beauty, in Love’s Warrs to yield.


Title Wit “The faculty of thinking and reasoning in general; mental capacity, understanding, intellect, reason” (OED).

16 Humour “A particular temperamental inclination” (OED).

29 House of God A church or place of worship (OED).

50 Conceits “A fanciful or ingenious expression, metaphor, turn of thought” (OED).

SOURCE:  Poems, Or, Several Fancies in Verse: With the Animal Parliament in Prose, Part II, Third Edition (London, 1668), pp. 117-18. [Google Books]

Edited by Izabella Garcia

Elizabeth Moody, “A Dialogue between Beauty and Time”


“A Dialogue between Beauty and Time”


As BEAUTY somewhat in decay
Was loit’ring tedious hours away;
Reflecting on her faded charms
That now no Lover’s heart alarms;
On Time her pensive thought was bent,                          5
Till rising spleen enforced a vent.

O TIME ! rapacious thief, she cry’d,
Why dost thou pillage thus our pride?
Encroaching still from day to day,
Some fav’rite charm thou steal’st away;                            10
O what a booty hast thou got!
Of hair, teeth, skin, and God knows what!
Detested plunderer ! —could but we
Retaliate thefts and rifle thee!
What bands of females would arise                                  15
In quest of ringlets, lips and eyes!
But thou tenacious of thy store,
Will’t keep possession evermore;
Nor ever restitution make
Of any treasure thou dost take.                                          20
How artful thy insidious paces
Assailing by degrees our faces!
A tiny wrinkle first appears,
A sallower hue complexion wears;
A tooth perchance shall pass away,                                   25
An auburn lock be ting’d with grey;
A blotch displays a patch of red,
And here and there a pimple’s head.
Thus by a progress dimly seen,
Thou mak’st a wreck of Beauty’s mien.                              30

“TIME, who was mowing on his way,
Attentive to his daily prey,
Hearing his name aloud repeated,
And with respect so little treated,
Started and made a sudden stand,                                      35
His scythe suspended in his hand,
While thus he spoke,—Thou silly fair!
Thy froward petulance forbear!
For know, that those who thus complain,
Who thus indulge the peevish strain,                                   40
Do but accelerate my power,
And uglier grow through every hour.
Go to thy glass, and that will show
From storms of rage that wrinkes flow.
Good-nature Beauty keeps alive,                                           45
Her dying charms it bids revive;
Still o’er herself a conquest gains,
And binds all others in her chains.
What though the skin be furrow’d o’er.
And hardness grows on every pore!                                     50
What though the eyes of beams bereft,
Have scarce a glimmering sparkle left;
Her sex its softness still retains
The angel temper still remains;
Still glows with every virtuous sense,                                   55
Its latest dream—benevolence.

Have I not told thee I would make
Some recompense for what I take?
Have I not told thee thou should’st find
Amendment in thy better mind;                                            60
Have I not promis’d to dispense
Prudence, philosophy and sense?
And that when Beauty wither’d lies,
Virtue from her dead flowers shall rise;
Learn then submission—be resign’d:                                    65
Meet me with smiles, and find me kind,
Yield to me calmly all I ask,—
Resisting Time’s a bootless task.

Submission? ——scornful BEAUTY cries,
What—give thee both my radiant eyes,                                70
My hair, my neck, my arms, my skin,
And not one murmur pass within?
No wish indulg’d one charm to save
A little longer from thy grave?
Time’s spoils his wisdom ill supplies,                                      75
Inadequate the compromise.

What canst thou give for Beauty’s face;
For Beauty’s freshness, vigour, grace?
What give in lieu of happy youth,
Her native innocence and truth?                                            80
What—for her open generous heart?
But cold reserve in folds of art?
What—for her unsuspecting trust?
But caution’s fear, and doubt unjust.
What for the converse youth bestows?                                85
Thought that reciprocally flows.
Gay intercourse that TIME derides,
“With Laughter holding both her sides.”
When Mirth’s allow’d to be in season,
Nor stands control’d by crabbed Reason.                            90
For this—say what dost thou engage?
The dull garrulity of Age.
The tedious half-remember’d stories,
Of cocks and bulls, and Whigs and Tories.
Remnants of tales of ancient courts,                                    95
Of vicious Monarchs and their sports;
Of Statesmen and their various tricks,
And furious jars of Politicks.
With tribes of legendary themes,
Prophetic visions, ghosts and dreams.                                 100

That prudence too, experience, sense,
Which thou so boastest to dispense:
What form they, but a case of steel,
That aged bosoms may not feel?
And thy Philosophy, O say!                                                     105
Will it drive racking Gout away?
Or for its pangs such ease prepare,
As flannel and an elbow chair?
Then wherefore barter Time, with thee,
On no Exchange shall we agree.                                           110

Time frown’d and scowling fierce reply’d,
Is this my proffer’d grace deny’d?
Go then—retain thy abject mind!
Such as thou view’st me thou shalt find.
For thee no wisdom I’ll prepare,                                           115
No solace for thy age’s care,
No veil I’ll spread thy faults to hide,
Replete with ignorance and pride,
Long as the glass my motion shows,
Through which life’s sandy current flows;                           120
Thou slave of Folly shalt be seen,
The same at sixty, as sixteen.


6 spleen “Excessive dejection or depression of spirits” (OED).

7 rapacious “Inordiately given to grasping or taking” (OED).

24 sallower hue “Sickly; yellow” (Johnson).

30 mien “The look, bearing, manner, or conduct of a person, as showing character, mood” (OED).

38 froward “Ungovernable; angry” (Johnson).

88 With Laughter holding both her sides A variation of line 32 from John Milton’s L’Allegro (1645), “And Laughter holding both his sides.”

89 Mirth “Joy, happiness” (OED).

92 garrulity “The quality of talking too much; talkativeness” (Johnson).

94 Whigs and Tories The two main British political parties from the 1680s to the mid 1800s.

106 Gout “A disease that causes painful swelling of the joints especially the toes” (Britannica).

SOURCE: Poetic Trifles (London, 1798) pp. 13-18. [Google Books]

Edited by Luke Bushey

Elizabeth Carter, “A Dialogue”


“A Dialogue”

 Says Body to Mind, ’Tis amazing to see,
We’re so nearly related yet never agree,
But lead a most wrangling strange Sort of a Life,
As great Plagues to each other as Husband and Wife.
The Fault is all your’s, who with flagrant Oppression,                                    5
Encroach ev’ry Day on my lawful Possession.
The best Room in my House you have seiz’d for your own,
And turn’d the whole Tenement quite upside down,
While you hourly call in a disorderly Crew
Of vagabond Rogues, who have nothing to do                                               10
But to run in and out, hurry scurry, and keep
Such a horrible uproar, I can’t get to sleep.
There’s my kitchen sometimes is as empty as Sound,
I call for my Servants, not one’s to be found:
They all are sent out on your Ladyship’s Errand,                                             15
To fetch some more riotous Guests in, I warrant!
And since Things are growing, I see, worse and worse,
I’m determined to force you to alter your Course.
Poor Mind, who hear all with extreme Moderation,
Thought it now Time to speak, and make her Allegation.                              20
‘Tis I, that, methinks, have most Cause to complain,
Who am crampt and confin’d like a Slave in a Chain.
I did but step out, on some weighty Affairs,
To visit, last Night, my good Friends in the Stars.
When, before I was got half as high as the Moon,                                           25
You dispatch’d Pain and Languor to hurry me down;
Vi & Armis they seiz’d me, in Midst of my Flight.
And shut me in Caverns as dark as the Night.
‘Twas no more, reply’d Body, than what you deserv’d,
While you rambled Abroad, I at Home was half starv’d:                                30
And, unless I had closely confin’d you in Hold,
You had left me to perish with Hunger and Cold.
I’ve a Friend, answers Mind, who, tho slow, is yet fare,
And will rid me, at last, of your insolent Power:
Will knock down at your Mud Walls, the whole Fabric demolishes,             35
And at once your strong Holds and my Slav’ry abolish:
And while in the Dust your dull Ruins decay,
I shall snap off my Chains, and fly freely away.


 27 Vi & Armis “With force and arms. Words used in [legal] indictments, etc. to express the charge of a forcible and violent committing any crime or trespass” (T. E. Tomlins, The Law-dictionary, vol. VI [1811], p. 351 [Google Books]).

Source: Poems on Several Occasions, 3rd edition (London, 1776), pp. 25-27. [Google Books]

Edited by Julia Ruiz