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-To Janus


On New Year's Day

1726


Two-faced Janus,[1] god of Time!
Be my Phoebus while I rhyme;
To oblige your crony Swift,
Bring our dame a new year's gift;
She has got but half a face;
Janus, since thou hast a brace,
To my lady once be kind;
Give her half thy face behind.

God of Time, if you be wise,
Look not with your future eyes;
What imports thy forward sight?
Well, if you could lose it quite.
Can you take delight in viewing
This poor Isle's[2] approaching ruin,
When thy retrospection vast
Sees the glorious ages past?
Happy nation, were we blind,
Or had only eyes behind!

Drown your morals, madam cries,
I'll have none but forward eyes;
Prudes decay'd about may tack,
Strain their necks with looking back.
Give me time when coming on;
Who regards him when he's gone?
By the Dean though gravely told,
New-years help to make me old;
Yet I find a new-year's lace
Burnishes an old-year's face.
Give me velvet and quadrille,
I'll have youth and beauty still.


[Footnote 1:

"Matutine pater, seu Jane libentius audis
Unde homines operum primos vitaeque labores
Instituunt."--HOR., Sat., ii, vi, 20.]

[Footnote 2: Ireland.--H.]



Jonathan Swift

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