Sunday, May 09, 2010


Taste and Try This Temper, Sirs

John Byrom (1692-1763), Careless Content, from Miscellaneous Poems, Vol. I (Leeds: James Nichols, 1814), pp. 51-53:
  I am content, I do not care,
    Wag as it will the world for me;
  When fuss and fret was all my fare,
    It got no ground as I could see:
So when away my caring went,
I counted cost, and was content.

  With more of thanks, and less of thought,
    I strive to make my matters meet;
  To seek, what ancient sages sought,
    Physic and food in sour and sweet;
To take what passes in good part,
And keep the hiccups from my heart.

  With good, and gentle humour'd hearts,
    I choose to chat where'er I come,
  Whate'er the subject be that starts;
    But if I get among the glum,
I hold my tongue to tell the troth,
And keep my breath to cool my broth.

  For chance or change, of peace or pain,
    For fortune's favour, or her frown,
  For lack or glut, for loss or gain,
    I never dodge, nor up, nor down;
But swing what way the ship shall swim,
Or tack about, with equal trim.

  I suit not where I shall not speed,
    Nor trace the turn of ev'ry tide;
  If simple sense will not succeed,
    I make no bustling, but abide:
For shining wealth, or scaring woe,
I force no friend, I fear no foe.

  Of ups and downs, of ins and outs,
    Of they are wrong, and we are right,
  I shun the rancours and the routs,
    And, wishing well to every wight,
Whatever turn the matter takes,
I deem it all but ducks and drakes.

  With whom I feast, I do not fawn,
    Nor if the folks should flout me, faint;
  If wonted welcome be withdrawn,
    I cook no kind of a complaint;
With none dispos'd to disagree,
But like them best, who best like me.

  Not that I rate myself the rule
    How all my betters should behave;
  But fame shall find me no man's fool,
    Nor to a set of men a slave:
I love a friendship free and frank,
And hate to hang upon a hank.

  Fond of a true and trusty tie
    I never loose where'er I link;
  Though if a bus'ness budges by,
    I talk thereon just as I think:
My word, my work, my heart, my hand,
Still, on a side, together stand.

  If names or notions make a noise,
    Whatever hap the question hath,
  The point impartially I poise,
    And read or write, but without wrath;
For should I burn or break my brains,
Pray, who will pay me for my pains?

  I love my neighbour as myself,
    Myself like him too, by his leave;
  Nor to his pleasure, pow'r, or pelf,
    Came I to crouch, as I conceive:
Dame Nature doubtless has design'd
A man—the monarch of his mind.

  Now taste and try this temper, Sirs,
    Mood it, and brood it in your breast;
  Or if ye ween, for worldly stirs
    That man does right to mar his rest,
Let me be deft and debonair,
I am content, I do not care.

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