Matthew Prior was born poor and lived to be a politican, a writer of profitable poetry (profitable poetry!) and a prisoner.
Let us stop for a brief moment and give thanks to Almighty God that our politicians seldom inflict their verses upon the general public...although, I don't know, could anything be more revealing of their True Selves?
Which must be the reason they don't do it.
Anyway. Matthew Prior was, luckily for everyone, a very good poet, famous for his polished verse as well as his easy temper. He was also funny, sharp-witted and a sure hand at a memorable line.
Here's An Ode. The really famous bit are the last two lines of the first verse.
Think of it, if you like, as an early version of Love Island.
The merchant, to secure his treasure,
Conveys it in a borrowed name.
Euphelia serves to grace my measure,
But Cloe is my real flame.
My softest verse, my darling lyre,
Upon Euphelia's toilet lay;
When Cloe noted her desire
That I should sing, that I should play.
My Lyre I tune, my voice I raise,
But with my numbers mix my sighs;
And whilst I sing Euphelia's praise,
I fix my soul on Cloe's eyes.
Fair Cloe blushed; Euphelia frowned;
I sung and gazed; I played and trembled;
And Venus to the Loves around
Remarked how ill we all dissembled.
Word To Use Today: toilet. This word comes from the French toilette, dress, from toile, a transparent fabric, from tēla, a loom. It means lavatory nowadays, but has meant, consecutively, a cloth for covering the head, a cloth for covering the dressing table, the dressing table itself (the meaning it has in this poem) the articles to be found on the dressing table, the process of getting washed and dressed, and the place where the washing and brushing was done. From there it was but a small blushing step to the other activities, and the necessary equipment for performing them, which might be performed in the same place.