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Eugene Field

(2 September 1850 - 4 November 1895 / St Louis / Missouri / United States)

In Praise Of Contentment


(HORACE'S ODES, III, I)

I hate the common, vulgar herd!
Away they scamper when I 'booh' 'em!
But pretty girls and nice young men
Observe a proper silence when
I chose to sing my lyrics to 'em.

The kings of earth, whose fleeting pow'r
Excites our homage and our wonder,
Are precious small beside old Jove,
The father of us all, who drove
The giants out of sight, by thunder!

This man loves farming, that man law,
While this one follows pathways martial--
What moots it whither mortals turn?
Grim fate from her mysterious urn
Doles out the lots with hand impartial.

Nor sumptuous feasts nor studied sports
Delight the heart by care tormented;
The mightiest monarch knoweth not
The peace that to the lowly cot
Sleep bringeth to the swain contented.

On him untouched of discontent
Care sits as lightly as a feather;
He doesn't growl about the crops,
Or worry when the market drops,
Or fret about the changeful weather.

Not so with him who, rich in fact,
Still seeks his fortune to redouble;
Though dig he deep or build he high,
Those scourges twain shall lurk anigh--
Relentless Care, relentless Trouble!

If neither palaces nor robes
Nor unguents nor expensive toddy
Insure Contentment's soothing bliss,
Why should I build an edifice
Where Envy comes to fret a body?

Nay, I'd not share your sumptuous cheer,
But rather sup my rustic pottage,
While that sweet boon the gods bestow--
The peace your mansions cannot know--
Blesseth my lowly Sabine cottage.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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