Wednesday, November 07, 2012


My Estate

John Norris (1657–1711), "My Estate," in A Collection of Miscellanies: Consisting of Poems, Essays, Discourses & Letters, 3rd ed. (London: Printed for S. Manship, 1699), pp. 60-61:

How do I pity that proud wealthy Clown
That does with Scorn on my low State look down!
    Thy vain Contempt dull Earth-worm cease,
    I won't for Refuge fly to this,
    That none of Fortune's Blessings can
    Add any Value to the Man,
This all the wise acknowledge to be true;
But know I am as rich, more rich than you.


While you a Spot of Earth possess with Care
Below the Notice of the Geographer,
    I by the Freedom of my Soul
    Possess, nay more, enjoy the whole;
    To th' Universe a Claim I lay;
    Your Writings shew perhaps you'll say,
That's your dull Way, my Title runs more high,
'Tis by the Charter of Philosophy.


From that a firmer Title I derive
Than all your Courts of Law could ever give.
    A Title that more firm doth stand
    Than does even your very Land,
    And yet so generous and free
    That none will e'er bethink it me,
Since my Possessions tend to no Man's Loss,
I all enjoy, yet nothing I ingross.


Throughout the Works divine I cast my Eye,
Admire their Beauty, and their Harmony.
    I view the glorious Host above,
    And him that made them, Praise and Love.
    The flowry Meads and Fields beneath,
    Delight me with their odorous Breath.
Thus is my Joy by you not understood
Like that of God, when he said all was good.


Nay (what you'd think less likely to be true)
I can enjoy what's yours much more than you.
    Your Meadow's Beauty I survey,
    Which you prize only for its Hay.
    There can I sit beneath a Tree,
    And write an Ode or Elegy.
What to you care, does to me pleasure bring,
You own the Cage, I in it sit and sing.

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