HIS AGE:DEDICATED TO HIS PECULIAR FRIEND,MR JOHN WICKES, UNDER THE NAME OFPOSTUMUS by Robert Herrick
Ah, Posthumus! our years hence fly And leave no sound: nor piety, Or prayers, or vow Can keep the wrinkle from the brow; But we must on, As fate does lead or draw us; none, None, Posthumus, could e'er decline The doom of cruel Proserpine.
The pleasing wife, the house, the ground Must all be left, no one plant found To follow thee, Save only the curst cypress-tree! --A merry mind Looks forward, scorns what's left behind; Let's live, my Wickes, then, while we may, And here enjoy our holiday.
We've seen the past best times, and these Will ne'er return; we see the seas, And moons to wane, But they fill up their ebbs again; But vanish'd man, Like to a lily lost, ne'er can, Ne'er can repullulate, or bring His days to see a second spring.
But on we must, and thither tend, Where Ancus and rich Tullus blend Their sacred seed; Thus has infernal Jove decreed; We must be made, Ere long a song, ere long a shade. Why then, since life to us is short, Let's make it full up by our sport.
Crown we our heads with roses then, And 'noint with Tyrian balm; for when We two are dead, The world with us is buried. Then live we free As is the air, and let us be Our own fair wind, and mark each one Day with the white and lucky stone.
We are not poor, although we have No roofs of cedar, nor our brave Baiae, nor keep Account of such a flock of sheep; Nor bullocks fed To lard the shambles; barbels bred To kiss our hands; nor do we wish For Pollio's lampreys in our dish.
If we can meet, and so confer, Both by a shining salt-cellar, And have our roof, Although not arch'd, yet weather-proof, And cieling free, From that cheap candle-baudery; We'll eat our bean with that full mirth As we were lords of all the earth.
Well, then, on what seas we are tost, Our comfort is, we can't be lost. Let the winds drive Our bark, yet she will keep alive Amidst the deeps; 'Tis constancy, my Wickes, which keeps The pinnace up; which, though she errs I' th' seas, she saves her passengers.
Say, we must part; sweet mercy bless Us both i' th' sea, camp, wilderness! Can we so far Stray, to become less circular Than we are now? No, no, that self-same heart, that vow Which made us one, shall ne'er undo, Or ravel so, to make us two.
Live in thy peace; as for myself, When I am bruised on the shelf Of time, and show My locks behung with frost and snow; When with the rheum, The cough, the pthisic, I consume Unto an almost nothing; then, The ages fled, I'll call again,
And with a tear compare these last Lame and bad times with those are past, While Baucis by, My old lean wife, shall kiss it dry; And so we'll sit By th' fire, foretelling snow and slit And weather by our aches, grown Now old enough to be our own
True calendars, as puss's ear Wash'd o'er 's, to tell what change is near; Then to assuage The gripings of the chine by age, I'll call my young Iulus to sing such a song I made upon my Julia's breast, And of her blush at such a feast.
Then shall he read that flower of mine Enclosed within a crystal shrine; A primrose next; A piece then of a higher text; For to beget In me a more transcendant heat, Than that insinuating fire Which crept into each aged sire
When the fair Helen from her eyes Shot forth her loving sorceries; At which I'll rear Mine aged limbs above my chair; And hearing it, Flutter and crow, as in a fit Of fresh concupiscence, and cry, 'No lust there's like to Poetry.'
Thus frantic, crazy man, God wot, I'll call to mind things half-forgot; And oft between Repeat the times that I have seen; Thus ripe with tears, And twisting my Iulus' hairs, Doting, I'll weep and say, 'In truth, Baucis, these were my sins of youth.'
Then next I'Il cause my hopeful lad, If a wild apple can be had, To crown the hearth; Lar thus conspiring with our mirth; Then to infuse Our browner ale into the cruse; Which, sweetly spiced, we'll first carouse Unto the Genius of the house.
Then the next health to friends of mine. Loving the brave Burgundian wine, High sons of pith, Whose fortunes I have frolick'd with; Such as could well Bear up the magic bough and spell; And dancing 'bout the mystic Thyrse, Give up the just applause to verse;
To those, and then again to thee, We'll drink, my Wickes, until we be Plump as the cherry, Though not so fresh, yet full as merry As the cricket, The untamed heifer, or the pricket, Until our tongues shall tell our ears, We're younger by a score of years.
Thus, till we see the fire less shine From th' embers than the kitling's eyne, We'll still sit up, Sphering about the wassail cup, To all those times Which gave me honour for my rhymes; The coal once spent, we'll then to bed, Far more than night bewearied.