Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, STELLA'S BIRTHDAY, 1725, by JONATHAN SWIFT



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STELLA'S BIRTHDAY, 1725, by         Recitation     Poet's Biography
First Line: As, when a beauteous nymph decays
Last Line: To make me deaf and mend my sight.
Subject(s): Birthdays; Johnson, Esther (1681-1728)


As, when a beauteous nymph decays,
We say, she's past her dancing days;
So poets lose their feet by time,
And can no longer dance in rhyme.
Your annual bard had rather chose
To celebrate your birth in prose;
Yet merry folks, who want by chance
A pair to make a country dance,
Call the old housekeeper, and get her
To fill a place, for want of better;
While Sheridan is off the hooks,
And friend Delany at his books,
That Stella may avoid disgrace,
Once more the Dean supplies their place.
Beauty and wit, too sad a truth!
Have always been confined to youth;
The god of wit, and beauty's queen,
He twenty-one, and she fifteen.
No poet ever sweetly sung,
Unless he were, like Phoebus, young;
Nor ever nymph inspired to rhyme,
Unless, like Venus, in her prime,
At fifty-six, if this be true,
Am I a poet fit for you?
Or, at the age of forty-three,
Are you a subject fit for me?
Adiey! bright wit, and radiant eyes,
You must be grave, and I be wise.
Our fate in vain we would oppose;
But I'll be still your friend in prose;
Esteem and friendship to express,
Will not require poetic dress;
And, if the Muse deny her aid
To have them sung, they may be said,
But, Stella, say, what evil tongue
Reports you are no longer young;
That Time sits, with his scythe to mow
Where erst sat Cupid with his bow;
That half your locks are turned to grey?
I'll ne'er believe a word they say.
'Tis true, but let it not be known,
My eves are somewhat dimmish grown:
For Nature, always in the right,
To your decay adapts my sight;
And wrinkles undistinguished pass,
For I'm ashamed to use a glass;
And till I see them with these eyes,
Whoever says you have them, lies.
No length of time can make you quit
Honour and virtue, sense and wit;
Thus you may still be young to me,
While I can better hear than see.
O ne'er may Fortune show her spite,
To make me deaf and mend my sight.





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