To John J. Knickerbocker, Jr.
Whereas, good friend, it doth appear
You do possess the notion
To his awhile away from here
To lands across the ocean;
Now, by these presents we would show
That, wheresoever wend you,
And wheresoever gales may blow,
Our friendship shall attend you.
What though on Scotia's banks and braes
You pluck the bonnie gowan,
Or chat of old Chicago days
O'er Berlin brew with Cowen;
What though you stroll some boulevard
In Paris (c'est la belle ville!),
Or make the round of Scotland Yard
With our lamented Melville?
Shall paltry leagues of foaming brine
True heart from true hearts sever?
No--in this draught of honest wine
We pledge it, comrade--never!
Though mountain waves between us roll,
Come fortune or disaster--
'Twill knit us closer soul to soul
And bind our friendships faster.
So here's a bowl that shall be quaff'd
To loyalty's devotion,
And here's to fortune that shall waft
Your ship across the ocean,
And here's a smile for those who prate
Of Davy Jones's locker,
And here's a pray'r in every fate--
God bless you, Knickerbocker!
An Ode To Fortune
O Lady Fortune! 't is to thee I call,
Dwelling at Antium, thou hast power to crown
The veriest clod with riches and renown,
And change a triumph to a funeral
The tillers of the soil and they that vex the seas,
Confessing thee supreme, on bended knees
Invoke thee, all.
Of Dacian tribes, of roving Scythian bands,
Of cities, nations, lawless tyrants red
With guiltless blood, art thou the haunting dread;
Within thy path no human valor stands,
And, arbiter of empires, at thy frown
The sceptre, once supreme, slips surely down
From kingly hands.
Necessity precedes thee in thy way;
Hope fawns on thee, and Honor, too, is seen
Dancing attendance with obsequious mien;
But with what coward and abject dismay
The faithless crowd and treacherous wantons fly
When once their jars of luscious wine run dry,--
Such ingrates they!
Fortune, I call on thee to bless
Our king,--our Caesar girt for foreign wars!
Help him to heal these fratricidal scars
That speak degenerate shame and wickedness;
And forge anew our impious spears and swords,
Wherewith we may against barbarian hordes
Our Past redress!
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.