Jonathan Swift

(30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745 / Dublin)

Bec’s Birth-Day Nov. 8, 1726


This day, dear Bec, is thy nativity;
Had Fate a luckier one, she'd give it ye.
She chose a thread of greatest length,
And doubly twisted it for strength:
Nor will be able with her shears
To cut it off these forty years.
Then who says care will kill a cat?
Rebecca shows they're out in that.
For she, though overrun with care,
Continues healthy, fat, and fair.
As, if the gout should seize the head,
Doctors pronounce the patient dead;
But, if they can, by all their arts,
Eject it to the extremest parts,
They give the sick man joy, and praise
The gout that will prolong his days.
Rebecca thus I gladly greet,
Who drives her cares to hands and feet:
For, though philosophers maintain
The limbs are guided by the brain,
Quite contrary Rebecca's led;
Her hands and feet conduct her head;
By arbitrary power convey her,
She ne'er considers why or where:
Her hands may meddle, feet may wander,
Her head is but a mere by-stander:
And all her bustling but supplies
The part of wholesome exercise.
Thus nature has resolved to pay her
The cat's nine lives, and eke the care.
Long may she live, and help her friends
Whene'er it suits her private ends;
Domestic business never mind
Till coffee has her stomach lined;
But, when her breakfast gives her courage,
Then think on Stella's chicken porridge:
I mean when Tigerhas been served,
Or else poor Stella may be starved.
May Bec have many an evening nap,
With Tiger slabbering in her lap;
But always take a special care
She does not overset the chair;
Still be she curious, never hearken
To any speech but Tiger's barking!
And when she's in another scene,
Stella long dead, but first the Dean,
May fortune and her coffee get her
Companions that will please her better!
Whole afternoons will sit beside her,
Nor for neglects or blunders chide her.
A goodly set as can be found
Of hearty gossips prating round;
Fresh from a wedding or a christening,
To teach her ears the art of listening,
And please her more to hear them tattle,
Than the Dean storm, or Stella rattle.
Late be her death, one gentle nod,
When Hermes, waiting with his rod,
Shall to Elysian fields invite her,
Where there will be no cares to fright her!

Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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