The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 7/Dr. Sheridan to Dr. Swift
DEAR Dean, since in cruxes and puns you and I deal,
Pray why is a woman a sieve and a riddle?
'Tis a thought that came into my noddle this morning,
In bed as I lay, Sir, a tossing and turning.
You'll find, if you read but a few of your histories,
All women, as Eve, all women are mysteries.
To find out this riddle I know you'll be eager,
And make every one of the sex a Belphegor.
But that will not do, for I mean to commend them:
I swear without jest I an honour intend them.
In a sieve, sir, their ancient extraction I quite tell,
In a riddle I give you their power and their title.
This I told you before: do you know what I mean, sir?
"Not I, by my troth, sir." — Then read it again, sir.
The reason I send you these lines of rhymes double
Is purely through pity, to save you the trouble
Of thinking two hours for a rhyme as you did last,
When your Pegasus canter'd in triple, and rid fast.
As for my little nag, which I keep at Parnassus,
With Phœbus's leave, to run with his asses,
He goes slow and sure, and he never is jaded,
While your fiery steed is whipp'd, spurr'd, bastinaded.