Friday, November 6, 2015

Birthday Poem

Jonathan Swift wrote many funny/teasing Birthday Poems for "Stella"
--Esther Johnson, his friend for life, and maybe lover? wife?

Here are some wicked, affectionate lines on getting old (together), from  
(Stella is forty-three; Jonathan is fifty-six.)

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?
Adieu! 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 turn'd to gray?
I'll ne'er believe a word they say.

'Tis true, but let it not be known,
My eyes are somewhat dimmish grown;
For nature, always in the right,
To your decays 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!


Julia said...

Sweet! Makes me think of a decade or so in my family where my siblings and I some years wrote poems like this (except, you know, kid/teen sibling versions, not famous-writer-publishable-love-poem stuff) to each other. Shared without much comment from you, tho?

Frex said...

Ah, yes---you saw that, my lack of comment, eh?
I didn't want to write about it, but it was my mother's birthday--she would have been 81.

So I went looking for birthday poems and found this adorable one so I posted it as a tribute, but didn't bother to say so.
Thanks for being an astute reader. :)