Monday, November 05, 2012


In Praise of a Country Life

Robert Chamberlain (1607-?), "In Praise of a Country Life," from his Nocturnall Lucubrations: or Meditations Divine and Morall Whereunto are added Epigrams and Epitaphs (London: Printed by M.F. for Daniel Frere, 1638):
The winged fancies of the learned quill,
Tel of strange wonders, sweet Parnassus hil,
Castalia's Well, the Heliconian Spring,
Star-spangled valleyes where the Muses sing.
Admired things another Storie yields,
Of pleasant Tempe and th' Elysian fields;
Yet these are nothing to the sweet that dwells
In low built cottages, and country cells.
What are the Scepters, Thrones, and Crowns of kings,
But gilded burdens, and most fickle things?
What are great offices but cumbring troubles
And what are honours but dissolving bubbles?
What though the gates of greatnes be frequented
With chains of glittering gold? he that's contented
Lives in a thousand times a happier way,
Than he that's tended thus from day to day.
Matters of state, nor yet domestick jars,
Comets portending death, nor blazing stars
Trouble his thoughts; hee'l not post hast run on
Through Lethe, Styx, and fiery Phlegiton
For gold or silver: he will not affright
His golden slumbers in the silent night,
For all the precious wealth, or sumptuous pride
That lies by Tiber, Nile, or Ganges side.
Th' imbroider'd meadows, & the crawling streams
Make soft and sweet his undisturbed dreams:
He revels not by day, nor in the nights,
Nor cares he much for Musicall delights;
And yet his humble roofe maintains a quire
Of singing Crickets round about the fire.
This harmlesse life he leads, and I dare say
Doth neither wish, nor feare his dying day.
The last line echoes the last line of Martial 10.47: summum nec metuas diem nec optes.

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