Tuesday, January 20, 2009


What's That to My Books and Me?

John Norris (1657-1711), The Retirement:
Well, I have thought on't, and I find,
This busie World is Nonsense all;
I here despair to please my mind,
Her sweetest Honey is so mixt with Gall.
Come then, I'll try how 'tis to be alone,
Live to my self a while, and be my own.

I've try'd, and bless the happy change;
So happy, I could almost vow
Never from this Retreat to range,
For sure I ne'r can be so blest as now.
From all th' allays of bliss I here am free,
I pity others, and none envy me.

Here in this shady lonely Grove
I sweetly think my hours away,
Neither with Business vex'd, nor Love,
Which in the World bear such Tyrannic sway:
No Tumults can my close Apartment find,
Calm as those Seats above, which know no Storm nor Wind.

Let Plots and News embroil the State,
Pray what's that to my Books and Me?
Whatever be the Kingdom's Fate,
Here I am sure t' enjoy a Monarchy.
Lord of my self, accountable to none,
Like the first Man in Paradice, alone.

While the Ambitious vainly sue,
And of the partial Stars complain,
I stand upon the Shore and view
The mighty Labours of the distant Main.
I'm flush'd with silent joy, and smile to see
The Shafts of Fortune still drop short of me.

Th' uneasie Pageantry of State,
And all the Plagues to Thought and Sense
Are far remov'd; I'm plac'd by Fate
Out of the Road of all Impertinence.
Thus, tho my fleeting Life runs swiftly on,
'Twill not be short, because 'tis all my own.
Isaak Levitan, Small Hut in a Meadow

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