Francis Atterbury, 1682
Be calm, my Dellius, and serene,
However Fortune change the scene!
In thy most dejected state,
Sink not underneath the weight:
Nor yet, when happy days begin,
And the full tide comes rolling in,
Let a fierce unruly joy
The settled quiet of thy mind destroy:
However Fortune change the scene,
Be calm, my Dellius, and serene!
Be thy lot good, or be it ill,
Life ebbs out at the same rate still:
Whether, with busy cares opprest,
You wear the sullen time away;
Or whether to sweet ease or rest
You sometimes give a day;
Underneath a friendly shade,
By pines and poplars mix’d embraces made;
Near a river’s sliding stream,
Fetter’d in sleep, bless’d with a golden dream.
Here, Here, in this much envy’d state,
Let every blessing on thee wait;
Bid the Syrian nard be brought,
Bid the hidden wine be sought,
And let the rose’s short-liv’d flower,
The smiling daughter of an hour,
Flourish on thy brow:
Enjoy the very, very now!
While the good hand of life is in,
While yet the fatal sisters spin.
A little hence, my friend, and thou
Must into other hands resign
Thy gardens and thy parks, and all that now
Bears the pleasing name of thine!
Thy meadows, by whose planted tides
Silver Tyber gently glides!
Thy pleasant houses, all must go;
The gold that’s hoarded in them too:
A jolly heir shall set it free,
And give th’ imprison’d monarchs liberty.
Nor matters it, what figure here
Thou dost among thy fellow-mortals bear;
How thou wert born, or how begot;
Impartial Death matters it not:
With what titles thou dost shine,
Or who was first of all thy line;
Life’s vain amusements! amidst which we dwell;
Nor weigh’d, nor understood, by the grim god of hell!
In the same road, alas! all travel on!
By all alike the same sad journey must be gone!
Our blended lots together lie,
Mingled in one common urn:
Sooner or later out they fly;
The fatal boat then wasts us to the shore,
Whence we never shall return,
Never! — never more!
Andrew Hervey Mills, 1767 (Imitated)
Let Fortune use you as she will,
Appear the man of temper still;
And keep, tho’ in the midst of woe,
Thyself in — Equilibrio —
But yet the harder task we find,
Justly to poize the tow’ring mind,
When that good lady, at a slap,
Lets fall a ticket in our lap.
Well, let her frown, or let her smile,
I’ll be her dupe but for a while;
And soon, upon the grass, forget
The very name of such a cheat —
There, with my lass and bottle, play,
In a perpetual roundelay;
Or where, to heighten our delight,
Those interwoven shades invite;
Which (stranger to a noon-tide ray)
Can make a twilight of the day,
And give young folks an hint to join
Embrace, like them — like them, intwine —
While water, unperceiv’d, distils,
To feed the little subter-rills —
Which, huddling in a thousand streams,
Sweetly excite poetic dreams —
— Come, pr’ythee set thy forehead free
From all those wrinkles which I see:
If talking will not do, I’ll try
The grand specific — Burgundy!
We’ll strew the place with ev’ry flow’r;
And crop those roses (of an hour)
Which else, perhaps, like you or I,
May droop to-morrow, fall, and die.
— Let’s laugh and sing — for, who’s afraid?
Death’s but my shadow ’till I’m dead!
And, then, believe for once the poet,
Happy for us! we never know it —
— That pretty box, and range of trees,
Where, now, you revel at your ease;
And, day by day, with hope beguile,
May fall to John-a-Noke, or Stile —
Some rav’nous, scraping heir or other;
Some bastard, or forgotten brother —
Will make those golden heaps a level,
And with your lordship at the Devil;
Because some little, paltry sum,
Is wanting to compleat the plumb —
— Sooner, or later, we must hence,
And pay th’ old ferryman his pence.
The last poor solitary coin
His worship suffers to be thine —
— The wretch, who breath’d in open air,
A life of misery and care—
Or he who, cloath’d in rich array,
Far’d sumptuously — but ev’ry day!
Kings, poets, and the Lord knows what,
Forgetting, die — and are forgot;
And, then, who has the most to say?
He who, like me, has liv’d to-day —
This, and this only, my good friend!
Will hold a maxim to the end;
And more immortalize your fame,
Than wealth without an honest name;
Which then, as in the moments past,
Will bring you curses to the last!
Eugene Field, 1891
Be tranquil, Dellius, I pray;
For though you pine your life away
With dull complaining breath,
Or speed with song and wine each day,
Still, still your doom is death.
Where the white poplar and the pine
In glorious arching shade combine,
And the brook singing goes,
Bid them bring store of nard and wine
And garlands of the rose.
Let ‘s live while chance and youth obtain;
Soon shall you quit this fair domain
Kissed by the Tiber’s gold,
And all your earthly pride and gain
Some heedless heir shall hold.
One ghostly boat shall some time bear
From scenes of mirthfulness or care
Each fated human soul, —
Shall waft and leave its burden where
The waves of Lethe roll.
So come, I prithee, Dellius mine;
Let ’s sing our songs and drink our wine
In that sequestered nook
Where the white poplar and the pine
Stand listening to the brook.