Wednesday, February 21, 2007



Dr. Hodges at Gypsy Scholar, in a post On Milton's 'Identity', mentions the odd expression drinking tobacco. By coincidence, just yesterday I happened on the same expression in a poem by Robert Wisdome included in Norman Ault's anthology of Elizabethan Lyrics (1949; rpt. New York: Capricorn Books, 1960), pp. 19-20:

The Indian weed witherëd quite,
Green at morn, cut down at night,
    Shows thy decay;
    All flesh is hay:
Thus think, then drink tobacco.

And when the smoke ascends on high,
Think thou behold’st the vanity
    Of worldly stuff,
    Gone with a puff:
Thus think, then drink tobacco.

But when the pipe grows foul within,
Think of thy soul defiled with sin.
    And that the fire
    Doth it require:
Thus think, then drink tobacco.

The ashes that are left behind,
May serve to put thee still in mind
    That into dust
    Return thou must:
Thus think, then drink tobacco.
The final stanza is especially appropriate for today, Ash Wednesday.

I recently encountered another expression new to me and related to tobacco -- anatomical snuff box, an area of the wrist so called from its use in taking snuff.

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