Jonathan Swift

(30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745 / Dublin)

Stella’s Birth-Day: A Great Bottle Of Wine, Long Buried, Being That Day Dug Up. 1722-3 - Poem by Jonathan Swift

Resolv'd my annual verse to pay,
By duty bound, on Stella's day,
Furnish'd with paper, pens, and ink,
I gravely sat me down to think:
I bit my nails, and scratch'd my head,
But found my wit and fancy fled:
Or if, with more than usual pain,
A thought came slowly from my brain,
It cost me Lord knows how much time
To shape it into sense and rhyme:
And, what was yet a greater curse,
Long thinking made my fancy worse.
Forsaken by th'inspiring Nine,
I waited at Apollo's shrine:
I told him what the world would say,
If Stella were unsung to-day:
How I should hide my head for shame,
When both the Jacks and Robin came;
How Ford would frown, how Jim would leer,
How Sheridan the rogue would sneer,
And swear it does not always follow,
That semel'n anno ridet Apollo.
I have assur'd them twenty times,
That Phoebus help'd me in my rhymes;
Phoebus inspired me from above,
And he and I were hand and glove.
But, finding me so dull and dry since,
They'll call it all poetic license;
And when I brag of aid divine,
Think Eusden's right as good as mine.
Nor do I ask for Stella's sake;
'Tis my own credit lies at stake:
And Stella will be sung, while I
Can only be a stander by.
Apollo, having thought a little,
Return'd this answer to a tittle.
Though you should live like old Methusalem,
I furnish hints and you shall use all 'em,
You yearly sing as she grows old,
You'd leave her virtues half untold.
But, to say truth, such dulness reigns,
Through the whole set of Irish deans,
I'm daily stunn'd with such a medley,
Dean White, Dean Daniel, and Dean Smedley,
That, let what dean soever come,
My orders are, I'm not at home;
And if your voice had not been loud,
You must have pass'd among the crowd.
But now, your danger to prevent,
You must apply to Mrs. Brent;
For she, as priestess, knows the rites
Wherein the god of earth delights.
First, nine ways looking, let her stand
With an old poker in her hand;
Let her describe a circle round
In Saunders' cellar on the ground:
A spade let prudent Archy hold,
And with discretion dig the mould.
Let Stella look with watchful eye,
Rebecca, Ford, and Grattans by.
Behold the bottle, where it lies
With neck elated toward the skies!
The god of winds and god of fire
Did to its wondrous birth conspire;
And Bacchus for the poet's use
Pour'd in a strong inspiring juice.
See! as you raise it from its tomb,
It drags behind a spacious womb,
And in the spacious womb contains
A sov'reign med'cine for the brains.
You'll find it soon, if fate consents;
If not, a thousand Mrs. Brents,
Ten thousand Archys, arm'd with spades,
May dig in vain to Pluto's shades.
From thence a plenteous draught infuse,
And boldly then invoke the Muse;
But first let Robert on his knees
With caution drain it from the lees;
The Muse will at your call appear,
With Stella's praise to crown the year.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010



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