Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Wish
By Walter Pope (c. 1627–1714)
 
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.
Chorus.  May I govern my passion with an absolute sway,        5
        And grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,
        Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.
 
May my little house stand on the side of a hill,
With an easy descent to a mead and a mill,
That when I’ve a mind I may hear my boy read,        10
In the mill if it rains, if it’s dry in the mead.
        May I govern, etc.
 
Near a shady grove, and a murmuring brook,
With the ocean at distance, whereon I may look,
With a spacious plain, without hedge or stile,
And an easy pad-hag to ride out a mile.
        May I govern, etc.
        15
 
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 teal,
And clean tho’ coarse linen at every meal.
        May I govern, etc.
 
With a pudding on Sundays, with stout humming liquor,        20
And remnants of Latin to welcome the Vicar,
With Monte-Fiascone or Burgundy wine,
To drink to the King’s health as oft as I dine.
        May I govern, etc.
 
May my wine be vermillion, may my malt-drink be pale,
In neither extreme, or too mild or too stale;        25
In lieu of deserts, unwholesome and dear,
Let Lodi or Parmisan bring up the rear.
        May I govern, etc.
 
Nor Tory, or Whig, Observator or Trimmer
May I be, nor against the law’s torrent a swimmer.
May I mind what I speak, what I write, and hear read,        30
But with matters of State never trouble my head.
        May I govern, etc.
 
Let the Gods who dispose of every king’s crown,
Whom soever they please set up and pull down.
I’ll pay the whole shilling imposed on my head,
Though I go without claret that night to my bed.
        May I govern, etc.
        35
 
I’ll bleed without grumbling, though that tax should appear
As oft as new moons, or weeks in a year;
For why should I let a seditious word fall
Since my lambs in Utopia pay nothing at all.
        May I govern, etc.
 
Though I care not for riches, may I not be so poor,        40
That the rich without shame cannot enter my door;
May they court my converse, may they take much delight,
My old stories to hear in a winter’s long night.
        May I govern, etc.
 
My small stock of wit may I not misapply,
To flatter ill men, be they never so high,        45
Nor misspend the few moments I steal from the grave,
In fawning and cringing like a dog or a slave.
        May I govern, etc.
 
May none whom I love, to so great riches rise,
As to slight their acquaintance, and their old friends despise;
So low or so high may none of them be,        50
As to move either pity or envy in me.
        May I govern, etc.
 
A friendship I wish for, but alas, ’tis in vain!
Jove’s store-house is empty, and can’t it supply;
So firm that no change of times, envy, or gain,
Or flattery, or woman, should have power to untie.
        May I govern, etc.
        55
 
But if friends prove unfaithful, and fortune a whore,
Still may I be virtuous though I am poor;
My life then as useless, may I freely resign,
When no longer I relish true wit and good wine.
        May I govern, etc.
 
To outlive my senses may it not be my fate,        60
To be blind, to be deaf, to know nothing at all;
But rather let death come before ’tis too late,
And while there’s some sap in it, may my tree fall.
        May I govern, etc.
 
I hope I shall have no occasion to send
For priests or physicians till I am near to mine end,        65
That I have eat all my bread, and drank my last glass,
Let then come them, and set their seals to my pass.
        May I govern, etc.
 
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        70
He’s gone, and left not behind him his fellow.’
        May I govern, etc.
 
Without any noise when I’ve pass’d o’er the stage,
And decently acted what part Fortune gave,
And put off my vest in a cheerful old age,
May a few honest fellows see me laid in my grave.
        May I govern, etc.
        75
 
I care not whether under a turf or a stone,
With any inscription upon it, or none;
If a thousand years hence, Here lies W. P.
Shall be read on my tomb, what is it to me?
        May I govern, etc.
 
Yet one wish I add, for the sake of those few        80
Who in reading these lines any pleasure shall take,
May I leave a good fame, and a sweet-smelling name.
AMEN. Here an end of my wishes I make.
Chorus.  May I govern my passion with an absolute sway,
        And grow wiser and better as my strength wears away,        85
        Without gout or stone, by a gentle decay.
 
 
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