VERSES to a FRIEND.
1 HAVE you not seen, my gentle squire,
2 The humours of our kitchin fire?
3 Says Ned to Sal — I lead a spade;
4 Why don't ye play? — the girl's afraid —
5 Play something — any thing — but play —
6 'Tis but to pass the time away.
7 Pho! how she stands — biting her nails —
8 As tho' she play'd for half her vails —
9 Sorting her cards, haggling and picking —
10 We play for nothing, do us, chicken?
11 That card will do — blood! — never doubt it —
12 'Tis not worth while to think, about it.
13 Sal thought and thought, and miss'd her aim;
14 And Ned, ne'er studying, won the game.
15 Methinks, old friend, 'tis wond'rous true,
16 That verse is but a game at Loo.
17 While many a bard, that shews so clearly
18 He writes for his amusement merely,
19 Is known to study, fret, and toil,
20 And play for nothing all the while;
21 Or praise at most (for wreaths of yore
22 Ne'er signify a farthing more:)
23 Till having vainly toil'd to gain it,
24 He sees your flying pen obtain it.
25 Thro' fragrant scenes the trifler roves,
26 And hallow'd haunts that Phoebus loves;[Page 50]
27 Where with strange heats his bosom glows,
28 And mystic flames the God bestows.
29 You, who none other flame require
30 Than a good blazing parlour fire,
31 Write verses — to defy the scorners,
32 In cake houses, and chimney corners.
33 Sal found her deep-laid schemes were vain;
34 The cards are cut — come deal again —
35 No good comes on it when one lingers —
36 I'll play the card comes next my fingers —
37 Fortune could never let Ned loo her,
38 When she had left it wholly to her.
39 Well, now, who wins? — Why, still the same —
40 For Sal has lost another game.
41 I've done, she mutter'd — I was saying,
42 It did not argufy my playing.
43 Some folks will win they cannot chuse;
44 But think or not think — some must lose,
45 I may have won a game, or so —
46 But then it was an age ago —
47 It ne'er will be my lot again —
48 I won it of a baby then —
49 Give me an ace of trumps, and see,
50 Our Ned will beat me with a three.
51 'Tis all by luck that things are carry'd —
52 He'll suffer for it when he's marry'd.
53 Thus Sal, with tears in either eye,
54 While victor Ned sat tittering by.
55 Thus I, long envying your success,
56 And bent to write, and study less,[Page 51]
57 Sate down and scribbled in a trice;
58 Just what you see — and you despise.
59 You who can frame a tuneful song,
60 And hum it as you ride along;
61 And, trotting on the king's high-way,
62 Snatch from the hedge a sprig of bay;
63 Accept the verse, howe'er it flows,
64 From one, who is your friend in prose.
65 What is this wreath, so green! so fair!
66 Which many wish; and few must wear?
67 Which one man's indolence can gain,
68 Another's vigils ne'er obtain?
69 For what must Sal or Poet sue,
70 Ere they engage with Ned or you?
71 For luck in verse? for luck at Loo?
72 Ah no! 'tis Genius gives you fame,
73 And Ned thro' skill secures the game.
About this text
Title (in Source Edition): VERSES to a FRIEND.
Author: William Shenstone
Themes: entertainments; pastimes; poetry; literature; writing
References: DMI 27241
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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.
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