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-Epigrams on Windows

SEVERAL OF THEM WRITTEN IN 1726


I. ON A WINDOW AT AN INN

We fly from luxury and wealth,
To hardships, in pursuit of health;
From generous wines, and costly fare,
And dozing in an easy-chair;
Pursue the goddess Health in vain,
To find her in a country scene,
And every where her footsteps trace,
And see her marks in every face;
And still her favourites we meet,
Crowding the roads with naked feet.
But, oh! so faintly we pursue,
We ne'er can have her full in view.


II. AT AN INN IN ENGLAND

The glass, by lovers' nonsense blurr'd,
Dims and obscures our sight;
So, when our passions Love has stirr'd,
It darkens Reason's light.


III. ON A WINDOW AT THE FOUR CROSSES IN THE WATLING-STREET ROAD, WARWICKSHIRE

Fool, to put up four crosses at your door,
Put up your wife, she's CROSSER than all four.


IV. ANOTHER, AT CHESTER

The church and clergy here, no doubt,
Are very near a-kin;
Both weather-beaten are without,
And empty both within.


V. ANOTHER, AT CHESTER

My landlord is civil,
But dear as the d--l:
Your pockets grow empty
With nothing to tempt ye;
The wine is so sour,
'Twill give you a scour,
The beer and the ale
Are mingled with stale.
The veal is such carrion,
A dog would be weary on.
All this I have felt,
For I live on a smelt.


VI. ANOTHER, AT CHESTER

The walls of this town
Are full of renown,
And strangers delight to walk round 'em:
But as for the dwellers,
Both buyers and sellers,
For me, you may hang 'em, or drown 'em.


VII. ANOTHER WRITTEN UPON A WINDOW WHERE
THERE WAS NO WRITING BEFORE

Thanks to my stars, I once can see
A window here from scribbling free!
Here no conceited coxcombs pass,
To scratch their paltry drabs on glass;
Nor party fool is calling names,
Or dealing crowns to George and James.


VIII. ON SEEING VERSES WRITTEN UPON WINDOWS AT INNS

The sage, who said he should be proud
Of windows in his breast,[1]
Because he ne'er a thought allow'd
That might not be confest;
His window scrawl'd by every rake,
His breast again would cover,
And fairly bid the devil take
The diamond and the lover.

[Footnote 1: See on this "Notes and Queries," 10th S., xii, 497.--W. E. B.]


IX. ANOTHER

By Satan taught, all conjurors know
Your mistress in a glass to show,
And you can do as much:
In this the devil and you agree;
None e'er made verses worse than he,
And thine, I swear, are such.


X. ANOTHER

That love is the devil, I'll prove when required;
Those rhymers abundantly show it:
They swear that they all by love are inspired,
And the devil's a damnable poet.


XI. ANOTHER, AT HOLYHEAD [1]

O Neptune! Neptune! must I still
Be here detain'd against my will?
Is this your justice, when I'm come
Above two hundred miles from home;
O'er mountains steep, o'er dusty plains,
Half choked with dust, half drown'd with rains,
Only your godship to implore,
To let me kiss your other shore?
A boon so small! but I may weep,
While you're like Baal, fast asleep.

[Footnote 1: These verses were no doubt written during the Dean's enforced stay at Holyhead while
waiting for fair weather. See Swift's Journal of 1727, in Craik's "Life of Swift," vol. ii, and
"Prose Works," vol. xi.--W. E. B.]



Jonathan Swift

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