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Best Famous Jonathan Swift Poems

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by Jonathan Swift | |

A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General

His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he's gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He'd wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old As by the newspapers we're told? Threescore, I think, is pretty high; 'Twas time in conscience he should die.
This world he cumbered long enough; He burnt his candle to the snuff; And that's the reason, some folks think, He left behind so great a s---k.
Behold his funeral appears, Nor widow's sighs, nor orphan's tears, Wont at such times each heart to pierce, Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say, He had those honors in his day.
True to his profit and his pride, He made them weep before he died.
Come hither, all ye empty things, Ye bubbles raised by breath of kings; Who float upon the tide of state, Come hither, and behold your fate.
Let pride be taught by this rebuke, How very mean a thing's a Duke; From all his ill-got honors flung, Turned to that dirt from whence he sprung.


by Jonathan Swift | |

Oysters

 Charming oysters I cry:
My masters, come buy,
So plump and so fresh,
So sweet is their flesh,
No Colchester oyster
Is sweeter and moister:
Your stomach they settle,
And rouse up your mettle:
They'll make you a dad
Of a lass or a lad;
And madam your wife
They'll please to the life;
Be she barren, be she old,
Be she slut, or be she scold,
Eat my oysters, and lie near her,
She'll be fruitful, never fear her.


by Jonathan Swift | |

A Satirical Elegy

 On the Death of a Late FAMOUS GENERAL


His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age, too, and in his bed!
And could that Mighty Warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he's gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He'd wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old As by the news-papers we're told? Threescore, I think, is pretty high; 'Twas time in conscience he should die.
This world he cumber'd long enough; He burnt his candle to the snuff; And that's the reason, some folks think, He left behind so great a stink.
Behold his funeral appears, Nor widow's sighs, nor orphan's tears, Wont at such times each heart to pierce, Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say, He had those honours in his day.
True to his profit and his pride, He made them weep before he dy'd.
Come hither, all ye empty things, Ye bubbles rais'd by breath of Kings; Who float upon the tide of state, Come hither, and behold your fate.
Let pride be taught by this rebuke, How very mean a thing's a Duke; From all his ill-got honours flung, Turn'd to that dirt from whence he sprung.


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by Jonathan Swift | |

A Description of the Morning

 Now hardly here and there a hackney-coach
Appearing, show'd the ruddy morn's approach.
Now Betty from her master's bed had flown, And softly stole to discompose her own.
The slip-shod 'prentice from his master's door Had par'd the dirt, and sprinkled round the floor.
Now Moll had whirl'd her mop with dext'rous airs, Prepar'd to scrub the entry and the stairs.
The youth with broomy stumps began to trace The kennel-edge, where wheels had worn the place.
The small-coal man was heard with cadence deep; Till drown'd in shriller notes of "chimney-sweep.
" Duns at his lordship's gate began to meet; And brickdust Moll had scream'd through half a street.
The turnkey now his flock returning sees, Duly let out a-nights to steal for fees.
The watchful bailiffs take their silent stands; And schoolboys lag with satchels in their hands.


by Jonathan Swift | |

Stellas Birthday March 13 1719

 Stella this day is thirty-four, 
(We shan't dispute a year or more:)
However, Stella, be not troubled,
Although thy size and years are doubled,
Since first I saw thee at sixteen,
The brightest virgin on the green;
So little is thy form declin'd;
Made up so largely in thy mind.
Oh, would it please the gods to split Thy beauty, size, and years, and wit; No age could furnish out a pair Of nymphs so graceful, wise, and fair; With half the lustre of your eyes, With half your wit, your years, and size.
And then, before it grew too late, How should I beg of gentle Fate, (That either nymph might have her swain,) To split my worship too in twain.


by Jonathan Swift | |

The Place of the Damned

 All folks who pretend to religion and grace,
Allow there's a HELL, but dispute of the place:
But, if HELL may by logical rules be defined
The place of the damned -I'll tell you my mind.
Wherever the damned do chiefly abound, Most certainly there is HELL to be found: Damned poets, damned critics, damned blockheads, damned knaves, Damned senators bribed, damned prostitute slaves; Damned lawyers and judges, damned lords and damned squires; Damned spies and informers, damned friends and damned liars; Damned villains, corrupted in every station; Damned time-serving priests all over the nation; And into the bargain I'll readily give you Damned ignorant prelates, and counsellors privy.
Then let us no longer by parsons be flammed, For we know by these marks the place of the damned: And HELL to be sure is at Paris or Rome.
How happy for us that it is not at home!


by Jonathan Swift | |

On Stellas Birth-Day 1719

 Stella this Day is thirty four,
(We shan't dispute a Year or more)
However Stella, be not troubled,
Although thy Size and Years are doubled,
Since first I saw Thee at Sixteen
The brightest Virgin on the Green,
So little is thy Form declin'd
Made up so largely in thy Mind.
Oh, woud it please the Gods to split Thy Beauty, Size, and Years, and Wit, No Age could furnish out a Pair Of Nymphs so graceful, Wise and fair With half the Lustre of your Eyes, With half your Wit, your Years and Size: And then before it grew too late, How should I beg of gentle Fate, (That either Nymph might have her Swain,) To split my Worship too in twain.


by Jonathan Swift | |

Elegy Upon Tiger

 Her dead lady's joy and comfort,
Who departed this life
The last day of March, 1727:
To the great joy of Bryan
That his antagonist is gone.
And is poor Tiger laid at last so low? O day of sorrow! -Day of dismal woe! Bloodhounds, or spaniels, lap-dogs, 'tis all one, When Death once whistles -snap! -away they're gone.
See how she lies, and hangs her lifeless ears, Bathed in her mournful lady's tears! Dumb is her throat, and wagless is her tail, Doomed to the grave, to Death's eternal jail! In a few days this lovely creature must First turn to clay, and then be changed to dust.
That mouth which used its lady's mouth to lick Must yield its jaw-bones to the worms to pick.
That mouth which used the partridge-wing to eat Must give its palate to the worms to eat.
Methinks I see her now in Charon's boat Bark at the Stygian fish which round it float; While Cerberus, alarmed to hear the sound, Makes Hell's wide concave bellow all around.
She sees him not, but hears him through the dark, And valiantly returns him bark for bark.
But now she trembles -though a ghost, she dreads To see a dog with three large yawning heads.
Spare her, you hell-hounds, case your frightful paws, And let poor Tiger 'scape your furious jaws.
Let her go safe to the Elysian plains, Where Hylax barks among the Mantuan swains; There let her frisk about her new-found love: She loved a dog when she was here above.
The Epitaph Here lies beneath this marble An animal could bark, or warble: Sometimes a bitch, sometimes a bird, Could eat a tart, or eat a t -.


by Jonathan Swift | |

A Maypole

 Deprived of root, and branch and rind,
Yet flowers I bear of every kind:
And such is my prolific power,
They bloom in less than half an hour;
Yet standers-by may plainly see
They get no nourishment from me.
My head with giddiness goes round, And yet I firmly stand my ground: All over naked I am seen, And painted like an Indian queen.
No couple-beggar in the land E'er joined such numbers hand in hand.
I joined them fairly with a ring; Nor can our parson blame the thing.
And though no marriage words are spoke, They part not till the ring is broke; Yet hypocrite fanatics cry, I'm but an idol raised on high; And once a weaver in our town, A damned Cromwellian, knocked me down.
I lay a prisoner twenty years, And then the jovial cavaliers To their old post restored all three - I mean the church, the king, and me.


by Jonathan Swift | |

The Progress of Poetry

 The Farmer's Goose, who in the Stubble, 
Has fed without Restraint, or Trouble; 
Grown fat with Corn and Sitting still, 
Can scarce get o'er the Barn-Door Sill: 
And hardly waddles forth, to cool 
Her Belly in the neighb'ring Pool: 
Nor loudly cackles at the Door; 
For Cackling shews the Goose is poor.
But when she must be turn'd to graze, And round the barren Common strays, Hard Exercise, and harder Fare Soon make my Dame grow lank and spare: Her Body light, she tries her Wings, And scorns the Ground, and upward springs, While all the Parish, as she flies, Hear Sounds harmonious from the Skies.
Such is the Poet, fresh in Pay, (The third Night's Profits of his Play;) His Morning-Draughts 'till Noon can swill, Among his Brethren of the Quill: With good Roast Beef his Belly full, Grown lazy, foggy, fat, and dull: Deep sunk in Plenty, and Delight, What Poet e'er could take his Flight? Or stuff'd with Phlegm up to the Throat, What Poet e'er could sing a Note? Nor Pegasus could bear the Load, Along the high celestial Road; The Steed, oppress'd, would break his Girth, To raise the Lumber from the Earth.
But, view him in another Scene, When all his Drink is Hippocrene, His Money spent, his Patrons fail, His Credit out for Cheese and Ale; His Two-Year's Coat so smooth and bare, Through ev'ry Thread it lets in Air; With hungry Meals his Body pin'd, His Guts and Belly full of Wind; And, like a Jockey for a Race, His Flesh brought down to Flying-Case: Now his exalted Spirit loaths Incumbrances of Food and Cloaths; And up he rises like a Vapour, Supported high on Wings of Paper; He singing flies, and flying sings, While from below all Grub-street rings.


by Jonathan Swift | |

Advice to the Grub Street Verse-writers

 Ye poets ragged and forlorn,
Down from your garrets haste;
Ye rhymers, dead as soon as born,
Not yet consign'd to paste;
I know a trick to make you thrive;
O, 'tis a quaint device:
Your still-born poems shall revive,
And scorn to wrap up spice.
Get all your verses printed fair, Then let them well be dried; And Curll must have a special care To leave the margin wide.
Lend these to paper-sparing Pope; And when he sets to write, No letter with an envelope Could give him more delight.
When Pope has fill'd the margins round, Why then recall your loan; Sell them to Curll for fifty pound, And swear they are your own.


by Edgar Lee Masters | |

Jonathan Swift Somers

 After you have enriched your soul
To the highest point,
With books, thought, suffering, the understanding of many personalities,
The power to interpret glances, silences,
The pauses in momentous transformations,
The genius of divination and prophecy;
So that you feel able at times to hold the world
In the hollow of your hand;
Then, if, by the crowding of so many powers
Into the compass of your soul,
Your soul takes fire,
And in the conflagration of your soul
The evil of the world is lighted up and made clear --
Be thankful if in that hour of supreme vision
Life does not fiddle.


by Edgar Lee Masters | |

Oaks Tutt

 My mother was for woman's rights
And my father was the rich miller at London Mills.
I dreamed of the wrongs of the world and wanted to right them.
When my father died, I set out to see peoples and countries In order to learn how to reform the world.
I traveled through many lands.
I saw the ruins of Rome, And the ruins of Athens, And the ruins of Thebes.
And I sat by moonlight amid the necropolis of Memphis.
There I was caught up by wings of flame, And a voice from heaven said to me: "Injustice, Untruth destroyed them.
Go forth! Preach Justice! Preach Truth!" And I hastened back to Spoon River To say farewell to my mother before beginning my work.
They all saw a strange light in my eye.
And by and by, when I taIked, they discovered What had come in my mind.
Then Jonathan Swift Somers challenged me to debate The subject, (I taking the negative): "Pontius Pilate, the Greatest Philosopher of the World.
" And he won the debate by saying at last, "Before you reform the world, Mr.
Tutt Please answer the question of Pontius Pilate: 'What is Truth?'"