Archive for August 9th, 2018

Thursday, 9 August 2018

The Dying Prostitute, an Elegy by Thomas Holcroft

Weep o’er the miseries of a wretched maid,
Who sacrific’d to man her health and fame;
Whose love of truth and trust were all repaid,
By want and woe, disease and endless shame.

Curse not the poor lost wretch, who, ev’ry ill,
That proud unfeeling man can heap, sustains;
Sure she enough is curst o’er whom his will,
Enflam’d by brutal passion, boundless reins.

Spurn not my fainting body from your door,
Here let me rest my weary weeping head;
No greater mercy would my wants implore,
My sorrows soon shall lay me with the dead.

Who now behold but loaths my faded face,
So wan and sallow, chang’d with sin and care?
Or who can any former beauty trace,
In eyes so sunk in famine and despair?

That I was virtuous once, and beauteous too,
And free from envious tongues my spotless fame;
These but torment, these but my tears renew,
These aggravate my present grief and shame.

Expell’d by all, enforc’d by pining want,
I’ve wept and wander’d many a midnight hour;
Implor’d a pittance lust would seldom grant,
Or sought a shelter from the driving show’r.

Oft as I rov’d, while beat the wintry storm,
Unknowing what to seek or where to stray,
To gain relief, entic’d each hideous form,
Each hideous form contemptuous turn’d away.

Where were my virgin honours, where my charms?
Oh! whither fled the pride I once maintain’d;
Or where the youths that woo’d me to their arms,
Or where the triumphs which my beauty gain’d?

Ah! say, insidious Damon! Monster! Where?
What glory hast thou gain’d by my defeat?
Art thou more happy now that I’m less fair?
Or bloom the laurels o’er my winding sheet?


Date: 1785

By: Thomas Holcroft (1745-1809)