“On Her Loving Two Equally” originally appeared under the title “Song” as part of Aphra Behn’s 1681 play The False Count. The song appears near the end of Act III of that play and is unchanged from its subsequent form as a standalone work of poetry.
The False Count premiered in 1681, the same year that also saw the appearance of part II of The Rover, a continuation of what had been and would continue to be Behn’s most popular work for the stage for the next three centuries. Counting both parts of The Rover as one, The False Count was Behn’s tenth play in eleven years and a central part of the most production period of her career as a playwright. Between 1681 and 1682, Behn produced six works for the stage. After this fecund period, she would live to see only two of last four plays performed.
In 1684, Behn published her first collection of poetry, Poems upon Several Occasions, with A Voyage to the Island of Love. In addition to “On Her Loving Two Equally,” this collection also include “songs” from other plays as standalone works of verse, including what was for most of her life her most famous poem, “Loved Armed.” The collection also the two poems for which Behn is arguably most famous today, “The Disappointment” and “The Golden Age.”
Tragically, Behn would die just five years after publication of this collection at the age of 48, living only long enough to publish one more collection of poetry to go along with her many plays and her famous work, the early “novel” about slavery, Oroonoko.