The Old Man's Wish






If I live to be old, for I find I go down,
  Let this be my fate: In a country town
  May I have a warm house, with a stone at the gate,
  And a cleanly young girl to rub my bald pate.
  May I govern my passion with an absolute sway,
  And grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
  Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.

  Near a shady grove, and a murmuring brook,
  With the ocean at distance, whereupon I may look,
  With a spacious plain without hedge or stile,
  And an easy pad-nag to ride out a mile.
  May I govern my passion with an absolute sway,
  And grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
  Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.

  With Horace and Petrarch, and two or three more
  Of the best wits that reign'd in the ages before,
  With roast mutton, rather than ven'son or veal,
  And clean though coarse linen at every meal.
  May I govern my passion with an absolute sway,
  And grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
  Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.

  With a pudding on Sundays, with stout humming liquor,
  And remnants of Latin to welcome the vicar,
  With Monte-Fiascone or Burgundy wine,
  To drink the King's health as oft as I dine.
  May I govern my passion with an absolute sway,
  And grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
  Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.

  With a courage undaunted may I face my last day,
  And when I am dead may the better sort say,
  In the morning when sober, in the evening when mellow,
  He's gone, and left not behind him his fellow.
  May I govern my passion with an absolute sway,
  And grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
  Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.

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