Poems from the East: Colchester

This is the third in a series of poems about East Anglia, which we are publishing to mark National Poetry Day.  The region has inspired many poets, especially in Norfolk and Suffolk. So each day for a week we are publishing one poem, covering between them all the centuries since the 16th, and all the counties of the region.

This poem is by the 17th century satirist, poet and clergyman, Jonathan Swift who is best known as the author of “Gulliver’s Travels”.

Colchester was famous for its oysters which were believed to have strong aphrodisiac powers. In the past much of the production has been exported to Europe, but that has been severely affected by Brexit.

Jonathan Swift Colchester oyster poem
Girl eating oysters, by Jan Steen. Photo by Mauritshuis, Netherlands (CC BY 2.0)

Oysters

Charming oysters I cry:

My masters, come buy,

So plump and so fresh,

So sweet is their flesh,

No Colchester oyster

Is sweeter and moister:

Your stomach they settle,

And rouse up your mettle:

They’ll make you a dad

Of a lass or a lad;

And madam your wife

They’ll please to the life;

Be she barren, be she old,

Be she slut, or be she scold,

Eat my oysters, and lie near her,

She’ll be fruitful, never fear her.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

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