Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ELEGY ON A QUID OF TOBACCO, by ROBERT SOUTHEY



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ELEGY ON A QUID OF TOBACCO, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: It lay before me on the close-grazed grass
Last Line: Thou didst thy duty, man can do no more.
Subject(s): Duty; Pleasure; Snuff (Tobacco); Substance Abuse; Temptation; Addictive Behavior


IT lay before me on the close-grazed grass,
Beside my path, an old tobacco quid:
And shall I by the mute adviser pass
Without one serious thought? now heaven forbid!

Perhaps some idle drunkard threw thee there,
Some husband, spendthrift of his weekly hire,
One who for wife and children takes no care,
But sits and tipples by the alehouse fire.

Ah! luckless was the day he learnt to chew!
Embryo of ills the quid that pleas'd him first!
Thirsty from that unhappy quid he grew,
Then to the alehouse went to quench his thirst.

So great events from causes small arise,
The forest oak was once an acorn seed:
And many a wretch from drunkenness who dies,
Owes all his evils to the Indian weed.

Let not temptation, mortal, ere come nigh!
Suspect some ambush in the parsley hid!
From the first kiss of love ye maidens fly!
Ye youths avoid the first tobacco quid!

Perhaps I wrong thee, O thou veteran chaw,
And better thoughts my musings should engage;
That thou wert rounded in some toothless jaw,
The joy, perhaps, of solitary age.

One who has suffered fortune's hardest knocks,
Poor, and with none to tend on his grey haris,
Yet has a friend in his tobacco-box,
And whilst he rolls his quid, forgets his cares.

Even so it is with human happiness,
Each seeks his own according to his whim;
One toils for wealth, one fame alone can bless,
One asks a quid, a quid is all to him.

O veteran chaw, thy fibres savoury strong,
Whilst ought remain'd to chew thy master chew'd,
Then cast thee here, when all thy juice was gone,
Emblem of selfish man's ingratitude!

A happy man, O cast-off quid, is he
Who, like as thou, has comforted the poor.
Happy his age, who knows himself like thee,
Thou didst thy duty, man can do no more.





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