literature / OTTW

On Tap This Week…(Naked) Truth and Falsehood

I’m starting a new feature of this blog, y’all. I live below the Mason-Dixon line now, so I can officially use “y’all”. Right?

I thought it might be fun to pluck out selections of my weekly readings to post…no commentary, no criticism, just…reading. I wade through reams of paper every week, so there’s plenty to choose from. This is for any of you who wonder what I actually *do* as an English lit. grad student (answer: read…and you can too!). This is for anyone who just wants a little (tasty) taste of reading. Or, you know, anyone who needs a tidbit of literature to pop into their next cocktail party conversation.

And yes, I know that some things are spelled “wrong” below…but it’s from the 18th century, so chill.


Truth and Falshood. A Tale. 
(Matthew Prior, 1720)

Once on a time, in sun-shine weather,

Falshood and Truth walk’d out together,

The neighb’ring woods and lawns to view,

As opposites will sometimes do.

Thro’ many a blooming mead They past,

And at a brook arriv’d at last.

The purling stream, the margin green,

With flowers bedeck’d, a vernal scene,

Invited each itin’rant maid

To rest a while beneath the shade;

Under a spreading beach They sat,

And pass’d the time with female chat;

Whilst each her character maintain’d;

One spoke her thoughts; the Other feign’d.

At length, quoth Falshood, Sister Truth,

For so She call’d Her from Her youth,

What if to shun yon sult’ry beam,

We bathe in this delightful stream;

The bottom smooth, the water clear,

And there’s no prying shepherd near?–

With all my heart, the Nymph reply’d,

And threw Her snowy robes aside,

Stript her self naked to the skin,

And with a spring leapt headlong in.

Falshood more leisurely undrest,

And layed by Her tawdry vest,

Trick’d her self out in Truth’s array,

And cross the meadows tript away.

From this curst hour, the Fraudful Dame,

Of sacred Truth usurps the name,

And with a vile, perfidious mind,

Roams far and near to cheat mankind;

False sighs suborns, and artful tears,

And starts with vain, pretended fears;

In visits, still appears most wise,

And rolls at church Her saint-like-eyes.

Talks very much, plays idle tricks,

While rising-stock Her conscience pricks,

When being, poor thing, extremely gravell’d,

She secrets ope’d, and all unravell’d.

But on She will, and secrets tell

Of John and Joan, and Ned and Nell,

Reviling ev’ry One she knows,

As fancy leads, beneath the rose.

Her tongue so voluble and kind,

It always runs before Her mind;

As times do serve She slily pleads,

With copious tears still shew Her needs,

With promises as thick as weeds.–

Speaks pro and con, is wond’rous civil,

To-day a Saint, to-morrow Devil.

Poor Truth She stript, as has been said,

And naked left the lovely Maid,

Who scorning from Her cause to wince,

Has gone stark-naked ever since;

And ever Naked will appear,

Belov’d by All who Truth revere.


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