1652 | England

Bosom Buddies

An ode to the bared breast.

Madam, I praise you, ’cause you’re free,
And you do not conceal from me
What hidden in your heart doth lie,
If I can it through your breasts spy.

Some ladies will not show their breasts
For fear men think they are undressed,
Or by’t their hearts they should discover,
They do’t to tempt some wanton lover.

They are afraid tempters to be,
Because a curse imposed they see,
Upon the tempter that was first,
By an all-seeing God that’s just.

But though I praise you have a care
Of that all-seeing eye, and fear,
Lest he through your bare breast sees sin,
And punish you for what’s within.

Eliza, “To a Friend for Her Naked Breasts.” Little is known about the author of Eliza’s Babes; or, The Virgins-Offering, the 103-page octavo in which this poem appears. She is identified simply as “a lady who only desires to advance the glory of God and not her own.” One scholar dismissed a case for male authorship as “hopeless”; “if it is male authored,” he wrote in 2000, “the fiction of Eliza’s Babes rates as the most seamless literary fiction I have ever read.”