Fair queen! When thou shall slay thy foe
With fatal dart from amber eye
When thou with honour lays him low
To submit his sorry self, or die
When gently thou with slippered foot
Will press thine enemy’s neck
And make his heart thine arrow’s butt
And call him at thy beck
Thy CYNICK must love from afar
Without hope of return
As distant from thee as the star
To be forever spurned
I die, pierced by Penthesilea’s lance-
No wit, no hope, no charm – no chance.
Attributed. John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1665)
Later evidence suggests the poem was written by the little-known Parliament!entarian poet Lucifer Pettitt in an attempt to discourage Wilmot’s unwanted attentions to his niece, Thomazine Russell, the “Penthesilea” of the poem.