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"The Disappointment" is a poem written by Aphra Behn . It was first published in 1680 (see 1680 in poetry ) in the Earl of Rochester's Poems on Several Occasions [1] and originally was believed to be Rochester’s own work. However, four years later, the poem was re-published in Aphra Behn’s Poems on Several Occasions and she received proper credit. [2]

Lysander, a shepherd, attempts to engage in sexual intercourse with Cloris, a maid. After a lengthy seduction, Lysander is unable to perform and leaves Cloris sexually frustrated (the last line of the poem refers to "the Hell of Impotence", though one interpretation of the earlier line "Th' Insensible fell weeping in his Hands" is that he prematurely ejaculates [3] [4] ). Behn's focus on the female sexual experience is unusual for the time, [3] though not unusual for Behn. Behn often dealt with overt sexuality in her writing, but this perspective often was not accepted by the public until well after her death. [1]

"The Disappointment" is grouped with other male 'imperfect enjoyment' poems, where a male's failing is attributed to female beauty. [3] [4] Rather than focus on explaining Lysander's failure, Behn is concerned with Cloris's disappointment, as the title of the poem illustrates. [3] Another interesting aspect of the poem is the way Aphra Behn personifies honor and shame as existing externally from Cloris [5] as if honor “abandons” her of its own free will, and shame replaces it without Cloris’ consent.

The Disappointment Poem by Aphra Behn - Poem Hunter

Aphra Behn - Aphra Behn Poems - Poem Hunter

Posted by 2018 article