Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Careless Content
By John Byrom (1692–1763)
 
I AM content, I do not care,
  Wag as it will the world for me!
When fuss and fret was all my fare
  It got no ground that I could see;
So when away my caring went        5
I counted cost and was content.
 
With more of thanks and less of thought
  I strive to make my matters meet;
To seek what ancient sages sought,
  Physic and food in sour and sweet;        10
To take what passes in good part
And keep the hiccups from the heart.
 
With good and gently-humoured hearts
  I choose to chat where’er I come,
Whate’er the subject be that starts;        15
  But if I get among the glum
I hold my tongue to tell the troth,
And keep my breath to cool my broth.
 
For chance or change of peace or pain,
  For Fortune’s favour or her frown,        20
For lack or glut, for loss or gain,
  I never dodge nor up nor down,
But swing what way the ship shall swim,
Or tack about with equal trim.
 
I suit not where I shall not speed,        25
  Nor trace the turn of every tide.
If simple sense will not succeed
  I make no bustling, but abide.
For shining wealth or scaring woe
I force no friend, I fear no foe.        30
 
Of ups and downs, of ins and outs,
  Of they ’re-i’-th’-wrong and we ’re-i’-th’-right,
I shun the rancours and the routs;
  And, wishing well to every wight,
Whatever turn the matter takes,        35
I deem it all but ducks and drakes.
 
With whom I feast I do not fawn,
  Nor if the folks should flout me, faint.
If wonted welcome be withdrawn
  I cook no kind of a complaint.        40
With none disposed to disagree,
I like them best who best like me.
 
Not that I rate myself the rule
  How all my betters should behave;
But fame shall find me no man’s fool,        45
  Nor to a set of men a slave;
I love a friendship free and frank,
But hate to hang upon a hank.
 
Fond of a true and trusty tie,
  I never loose where’er I link,        50
Though if a business budges by
  I talk thereon just as I think;
My word, my work, my heart, my hand,
Still on a side together stand.
 
If names or notions make a noise,        55
  Whatever hap the question hath
The point impartially I poise,
  And read and write, but without wrath;
For, should I burn or break my brains,
Pray, who will pay me for my pains?        60
 
I love my neighbour as myself—
  Myself like him too, by his leave!
Nor to his pleasure, power or pelf
  Came I to crouch, as I conceive!
Dame Nature doubtless has designed        65
A man the monarch of his mind.
 
Now taste and try this temper, sirs,
  Mood it and brood it in your breast;
Or, if ye ween for worldly stirs
  That man does right to mar his rest,        70
Let me be deft and debonair,
I am content, I do not care!
 
 
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