By Christopher Smart
It ever was allow’d, dear Madam,
Ev’n from the days of father Adam,
Of all perfection flesh is heir to,
Fair patience is the gentlest virtue;
This is a truth our grandames teach,
Our poets sing, and parsons preach;
Yet after all, dear Moll, the fact is
We seldom put it into practice;
I’ll warrant (if one knew the truth)
You’ve call’d me many an idle youth,
And styled me rude ungrateful bear,
Enough to make a parson swear.
I shall not make a long oration
In order for my vindication,
For what the plague can I say more
Than lazy dogs have done before;
Such stuff is nought but mere tautology,
And so take that for my apology.
First then for custards, my dear Mary,
The produce of your dainty dairy,
For stew’d, for bak’d, for boil’d, for roast,
And all the teas and all the toast;
With thankful tongue and bowing attitude,
I here present you with my gratitude:
Next for you apples, pears and plums
Acknowledgment in order comes;
For wine, for ale, for fowl, for fish—for
Ev’n all one’s appetite can wish for:
But O ye pens, and O ye pencils,
And all ye scribbling utensils,
Say in what words and in what metre,
Shall unfeign’d admiration greet her,
For that rich banquet so refin’d
Her conversation gave the mind;
The solid meal of sense and worth,
Set off by the desert of mirth;
Wit’s fruit and pleasure’s genial bowl,
And all the joyous flow of soul;
For these, and every kind ingredient
That form’d your love—your most obedient.
The eccentric English poet Christopher Smart spent a considerable part of his adult life in confinement; besides being imprisoned for debt, he was institutionalized for madness connected to his extreme religious fervor. Almost unknown until the twentieth century, when further manuscripts of his work were discovered, he is best known for poems celebrating God and His Creation. The fragmentary “Rejoice in the Lamb,” with its famous section “For I will consider my cat Jeoffry,” was set to music in 1943 by Benjamin Britten.
More Poems about Activities
Vagrants and Loiterers
You got that clean waistcoat,
the bright white of a well-tailored
shirt, you got those loose-as-sacks
slacks and some spit-polished shoes,
and you know, whether you are looking
like money, or about to take a stroll,
to tilt that hat like you own
the world; yeah, smoke...
When I was “in despair” (the dark days
when I actually used such terms)
I noticed the behavior of animals —
sleep when tired, eat when hungry
That made a lot of sense to me
and yet I felt different
More Poems about Arts & Sciences
Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark
I play the egg
and I play the triangle
I play the reed
and I play each angle
I play the lyre
and I play the lute
I play the snare
and I play the flute
I play the licorice stick
and I play the juke
I play the kettle
The man I pulled tonight
carried a load of books.
When I felt him watching
me uphill, I grimaced.
He gave me lunar
cakes the size
of two camel humps.
When I answered him,
I smiled to his face.
He wore the moonlight
in his specs. Pant
seams clean as the...
More Poems about Relationships
Back Up Quick They’re Hippies
That was the year we drove
into the commune in Cornwall.
“Jesus Jim,” mam said,
“back up quick they’re hippies.”
Through the car window,
tents, row after row, flaps open,
long-haired men and women
curled around each other like babies
and the babies themselves
wandered naked across the grass.
In the warmth of night I put feet to my plan: waited
for my brothers to sleep. They’d spent the day
sharpening their hooks, repairing the great net,
filling gourds with fresh water. They’d bundled
taro wrapped in leaves sitting below the cross seats.