John Hay

(8 October 1838 – 1 July 1905 / Salem, Indiana)

Distichs


I

Wisely a woman prefers to a lover a man who neglects her.
This one may love her some day, some day the lover will not.

II

There are three species of creatures who when they seem coming are going,
When they seem going they come: Diplomates, women, and crabs.

III

Pleasures too hastily tasted grow sweeter in fond recollection,
As the pomegranate plucked green ripens far over the sea.

IV

As the meek beasts in the Garden came flocking for Adam to name them,
Men for a title to-day crawl to the feet of a king.

V

What is a first love worth, except to prepare for a second?
What does the second love bring? Only regret for the first.

VI

Health was wooed by the Romans in groves of the laurel and myrtle.
Happy and long are the lives brightened by glory and love.

VII

Wine is like rain: when it falls on the mire it but makes it the fouler,
But when it strikes the good soil wakes it to beauty and bloom.

VIII

Break not the rose; its fragrance and beauty are surely sufficient:
Resting contented with these, never a thorn shall you feel.

IX

When you break up housekeeping, you learn the extent of your treasures;
Till he begins to reform, no one can number his sins.

X

Maidens! why should you worry in choosing whom you shall marry?
Choose whom you may, you will find you have got somebody else.

XI

Unto each man comes a day when his favorite sins all forsake him,
And he complacently thinks he has forsaken his sins.

XII

Be not too anxious to gain your next-door neighbor's approval:
Live your own life, and let him strive your approval to gain.

XIII

Who would succeed in the world should be wise in the use of his pronouns.
Utter the You twenty times, where you once utter the I.

XIV

The best loved man or maid in the town would perish with anguish
Could they hear all that their friends say in the course of a day.

XV

True luck consists not in holding the best of the cards at the table:
Luckiest he who knows just when to rise and go home.

XVI

Pleasant enough it is to hear the world speak of your virtues;
But in your secret heart 't is of your faults you are proud.

XVII

Try not to beat back the current, yet be not drowned in its waters;
Speak with the speech of the world, think with the thoughts of the few.

XVIII

Make all good men your well-wishers, and then, in the years' steady sifting,
Some of them turn into friends. Friends are the sun shine of life.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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