Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Sentiment: VI. Labor and Rest
The Wants of Man
John Quincy Adams (1767–1848)
 
“MAN wants but little here below,
  Nor wants that little long.”
’T is not with me exactly so;
  But ’t is so in the song.
My wants are many and, if told,        5
  Would muster many a score;
And were each wish a mint of gold,
  I still should long for more.
 
What first I want is daily bread—
  And canvas-backs—and wine—        10
And all the realms of nature spread
  Before me, when I dine.
Four courses scarcely can provide
  My appetite to quell;
With four choice cooks from France beside,        15
  To dress my dinner well.
 
What next I want, at princely cost,
  Is elegant attire:
Black sable furs for winter’s frost,
  And silks for summer’s fire,        20
And Cashmere shawls, and Brussels lace
  My bosom’s front to deck,—
And diamond rings my hands to grace,
  And rubies for my neck.
 
I want (who does not want?) a wife,—        25
  Affectionate and fair;
To solace all the woes of life,
  And all its joys to share.
Of temper sweet, of yielding will,
  Of firm, yet placid mind,—        30
With all my faults to love me still
  With sentiment refined.
 
And as Time’s car incessant runs,
  And Fortune fills my store,
I want of daughters and of sons        35
  From eight to half a score.
I want (alas! can mortal dare
  Such bliss on earth to crave?)
That all the girls be chaste and fair,
  The boys all wise and brave.        40
 
I want a warm and faithful friend,
  To cheer the adverse hour;
Who ne’er to flatter will descend,
  Nor bend the knee to power,—
A friend to chide me when I ’m wrong,        45
  My inmost soul to see;
And that my friendship prove as strong
  For him as his for me.
 
I want the seals of power and place,
  The ensigns of command;        50
Charged by the People’s unbought grace
  To rule my native land.
Nor crown nor sceptre would I ask
  But from my country’s will,
By day, by night, to ply the task        55
  Her cup of bliss to fill.
 
I want the voice of honest praise
  To follow me behind,
And to be thought in future days
  The friend of human kind,        60
That after ages, as they rise,
  Exulting may proclaim
In choral union to the skies
  Their blessings on my name.
 
These are the Wants of mortal Man,—        65
  I cannot want them long,
For life itself is but a span,
  And earthly bliss—a song.
My last great Want—absorbing all—
  Is, when beneath the sod,        70
And summoned to my final call,
  The Mercy of my God.
 
 
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