Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Whatever Comes, Content Makes Sweet

Robert Herrick (1591-1674), "His content in the Country," The Complete Poetry of Robert Herrick, edd. Tom Cain and Ruth Connolly, Vol. I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 189:
Here, here I live with what my Board,
Can with the smallest cost afford.
Though ne'er so mean the Viands be,
They well content my Prew and me.
Or Pea, or Bean, or Wort, or Beet,                5
What ever comes, content makes sweet:
Here we rejoyce, because no Rent
We pay for our poore Tenement:
Wherein we rest, and never feare
The Landlord or the Usurer.                10
The Quarter-day do's ne'er affright
Our Peacefull slumbers in the night.
We eate our own, and batten more,
Because we feed on no mans score:
But pitie those, whose flanks grow great,                15
Swel'd with the Lard of others meat.
We blesse our Fortunes, when we see
Our own beloved privacie:
And like our living, where w'are known
To very few, or else to none.                20
4 Prew: his housekeeper, Prudence Baldwin
11 Quarter-day: when rent is due
13 our own: what we produce
13 batten: "To grow better or improve in condition; esp. (of animals) to improve in bodily condition by feeding, to feed to advantage, thrive, grow fat" (Oxford English Dictionary)
14: score: "debt due to a tradesman for goods obtained on credit" (Oxford English Dictionary, sense 11.a)
19-20: in accordance with Epicurus' maxim (fragment 551 Usener) "Live unknown"

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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