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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Lord Reginald Moreton of Oxfordshire

Poet’s Note: “One of my favourite things to do whenever I visit new areas with my friends is to come up with ridiculous “histories” for the place we visit. Naturally, when I came to Oxford, this tradition continued, and I’ve made up many stories about Oxford’s under-appreciated, obscure locales. My university accommodation faces Moreton Road, the road which is the border between north Oxford and Summertown. I wanted to come up with a story as to why the road was named Moreton. Lately, I’ve been trying to write poetry in a Restoration-era style, so I decided that Moreton Road was named after the totally real Oxonian rake, Lord Reginald Moreton of Oxfordshire. For this poem, I was specifically inspired by the satirical, whimsical, often saucy writings of the famous Restoration libertine John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester.”

I
Lord Reginald Moreton of Oxfordshire,
With his white, well-wigg’d tow’ring coiffure,
Liv’d during our Most Merry King’s reign:—
That bygone era of our Youth profane,
When we lov’d most passionately of all,
Ne’er fearing God’s wrath or a downfall,
Submitting to forces of desire,
Surely we damned to some hot Hellfire—
Yet we liv’d like bucolic swains of yore;
This audience I’ll tell no tale before:
Lord Reginald Moreton was a bright boy
Who took upon his studies with most joy;
He matriculated into Oxford
At just sixteen summers; there he explor’d
Fond friendships, thrilling trysts, amorous loves:
Fellow Wadham youths below and above.
Enjoy’d he the company of all sorts,
Among they: Christopher Wren and John Wilmot—
Wadham call’d ‘em Libertine Argonauts;
In those great halls many a word they wrote,
Creating some numerous anecdotes:
Pageboys and maidenheads so licentious,
Priests, pastors—all clergy—desirous
Frustrated they the don with all their woes,
But they knew not yet a single sorrow;
Their markèd effervesence eternal,
Expanded greatly their bonds fraternal,
Reginald soon known all ‘cross Oxfordshire,
With his white, well-wigg’d towering coiffure.

II
Wren, however, soon left his rakish life,
Pursuing knowledge, avoiding foul strife;
Rochester and Moreton yet did remain,
From few vain diversions they would abstain;
Knew deeply they all physical pleasures,
Even each other’s bodies they’d measure,
Soon, they knew also a new ecstasy,
But quickly approach’d graduation day;
Rusticat’d they: village near Marseille;
There they enjoy’d beaches and promenades,
Making each other toast with marmalade,
‘Till news came His Majesty would report,
Most August, Benevolent Charles Stuart,
Soon arriv’d with lovely Catherine, Queen,
To enjoy that Ocean aquamarine;
The two couples met on those French shores;
Charles told them tales of English Civil War;
The Libertines sung Irish limericks,
Alas! Sweet Queen Catherine became sick!
Off she went to some hospital hidden,
While they engag’d in love forbidden;
Charles purchas’d a bathtub with three ends,
So his Hyacinthines could give him
Such joys from those white bubbles did descend;
When exhaust’d, they’d all cuddle in bed;
Though those languid days were limited so,
Labouring in repose, reading Rousseau,
‘Till June when Catherine’s health did improve,
Of their obscenities she did reprove.

III
Charles cared not; sail’d they to England;
The remaining loves tired of French sands,
Return’d they to their homeland, to Oxfordshire,
Sorely missing that European tour,
But onward did continue their studies—
Really, Rochester drank with his buddies;
Meanwhile, Moreton invested in books,
Each to their whims; a friendship forsook,
Pity, soon forgot; degrees they now held,
Through the next decade of life they propelled.
Pleasure, drink: dominated Wilmot,
Literally went out with a bang, that clot!
The world knew not a better hedonist,
Mist’d all eyes his death did; he was missed,
By Moreton and King Charles most of all,
Embracing in those mausoleum halls;
But from that sorrow arose merriment,
Fescennine love reborn, to Cat’s discontent,
Moreton ascended to the King’s fav’rite,
Golden, sunlit bond, none so close-knit.
Moreton with honours Charles did bestow:
Land in Summertown, Oxford; a chateau,
Its view: French shores three Cavaliers once shar’d;
An Oxford road named Moreton, King declar’d,
And lastly: a certain three-headed bathtub;
An old Moreton’d soak, after supper club;
That rake liv’d hap’ly into late years;
At the funeral said the mourners’ cheers:
“Woe! That sinecure gone so premature,
An epicure ‘mpassion’d with such rigour;
May ‘is mem’ry be bless’d, we shall assure:
With his white, well-wigg’d tow’ring coiffure,
Lord Reginald Moreton of Oxfordshire.”

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