The Imperfect Enjoyment
(c. 1680)

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

Edited by Jack Lynch

Count on Rochester for the most beautiful poem in the English language on the subject of premature ejaculation. It was first published in 1680, shortly after Rochester’s death.

This is a reading text in modern spelling, with no pretense to being a critical edition. The notes are my own.

The Imperfect Enjoyment

Naked she lay, clasped in my longing arms,
I filled with love, and she all over charms;
Both equally inspired with eager fire,
Melting through kindness, flaming in desire.
With arms, legs, lips close clinging to embrace, [5]
She clips me to her breast, and sucks me to her face.
Her nimble tongue, Love’s lesser lightening, played
Within my mouth, and to my thoughts conveyed° delivered
Swift orders that I should prepare to throw
The all-dissolving thunderbolt below. [10]
My fluttering soul, sprung with the painted kiss,
Hangs hovering o’er her balmy° brinks of bliss. delicious
But whilst her busy hand would guide that part
Which should convey my soul up to her heart,
In liquid raptures° I dissolve all o’er, [15] ecstasy
Melt into sperm, and spend° at every pore. ejaculate
A touch from any part of her had done ’t:° would have done it
Her hand, her foot, her very look’s a cunt.
Smiling, she chides° in a kind murmuring noise, teases
And from her body wipes the clammy joys, [20]
When, with a thousand kisses wandering o’er
My panting bosom, “Is there then no more?”
She cries. “All this to love and rapture’s due;
Must we not pay a debt to pleasure too?”
But I, the most forlorn,° lost man alive, [25] lost, ruined
To show my wished obedience vainly strive:° try
I sigh, alas! and kiss, but cannot swive.° fuck
Eager desires confound° my first intent, defeat
Succeeding shame does more success prevent,
And rage at last confirms me impotent. [30]
Ev’n her fair hand, which might bid heat return
To frozen age, and make cold hermits burn,
Applied to my dead cinder, warms no more
Than fire to ashes could past flames restore.
Trembling, confused, despairing, limber,° dry, [35] limp
A wishing, weak, unmoving lump I lie.
This dart° of love, whose piercing point, oft tried, arrow
With virgin blood ten thousand maids have dyed;
Which nature still directed with such art
That it through every cunt reached every heart — [40]
Stiffly resolved, ’twould carelessly invade
Woman or man, nor aught its fury stayed:° and nothing could stop its fury
Where’er it pierced, a cunt it found or made —
Now languid° lies in this unhappy hour, powerless
Shrunk up and sapless like a withered flower. [45]
Thou treacherous, base deserter of my flame,
False to my passion, fatal to my fame,
Through what mistaken magic dost thou prove
So true to lewdness,° so untrue to love? immoral sex
What oyster-cinder-beggar-common whore [50]
Didst thou e’er fail in all thy life before?
When vice, disease, and scandal lead the way,
With what officious° haste dost thou obey! eager to please
Like a rude, roaring hector° in the streets bully
Who scuffles, cuffs, and justles all he meets, [55]
But if his king or country claim his aid,
The rakehell° villain shrinks and hides his head; immoral
Ev’n so thy brutal valour is displayed,
Breaks every stew,° does each small whore invade, whorehouse
But when great Love the onset does command, [60]
Base recreant° to thy prince, thou dar’st not stand. traitor
Worst part of me, and henceforth hated most,
Through all the town a common fucking-post,
On whom each whore relieves her tingling cunt
As hogs do rub themselves on gates and grunt, [65]
May’st thou to ravenous chancres° be a prey, weeping sores
Or in consuming weepings waste away;
May strangury° and stone° thy days attend; painful urination — kidneystone
May’st thou ne’er piss, who did refuse to spend° ejaculate
When all my joys did on false thee depend. [70]
   And may ten thousand abler pricks agree
   To do the wronged Corinna right for thee.


Oyster-cinder-beggar-common whore
“Oyster wives” (who sold oysters on the street) and “cinder wenches” (who swept the streets) were proverbially low women.