Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
Epistolary Ode to a Friend
By Nathaniel Evans (1742–1767)
 
LIKE as Lybia’s burning sand,
  Or the parch’d Arabian plain,
Which gentle Eurus never fann’d,
  Would drink the unfathomable main—
So is the wretch who endless craves,        5
  And restless pines in every state—
O! place him with the worst of slaves,
  Whether in high or low estate;
Heap him around with massy wealth,
  High-throne him on the seat of power;        10
Each generous joy he ’ll use by stealth,
  While want shall prey on every hour;
Let glittering pomp allure his soul,
  Or nobler fame his mind dilate;
Through complicated plagues he ’ll roll,        15
  And dire vexations still create.
The first-born mortal upon earth,
  When round him smiling nature play’d,
With discontent was void of mirth,
  Though he o’er every creature sway’d.        20
 
He who contented spends his days—
  Calm as the clear unruffled stream,
His life in gentle current strays,
  Mild as the maiden’s silver dream—
  Be he born to till the field,        25
  Or in war the sword to wield;
  If he o’er the midnight oil
  Wastes his life in learned toil,
  Studious to instruct mankind
  Where true happiness to find;        30
  Or if o’er the lawless main
  He roams in search of sordid gain;
  Or sorts with nobles in proud ease,
  Or humble swains in cottages;
  Be he with content but blest—        35
  He ’s the happy man confest!
 
Listen, dear Strephon, to my song—
  O herd not with ambitious slaves,
Nor join thou with the vulgar throng—
  Their joys unstable as the waves.        40
Strephon, thrice blest with fruitful plains,
  The lover of a sapient theme;
Strephon, whose sweetly soothing strains
  Flow gently as thy native stream—
O leave the ruthless scenes of war,        45
  Unfit art thou for rude alarms,
Beside thy gentle Delaware,
  Come, Strephon, seek more pleasing charms.
Here, while o’er the fertile valleys
  Thou shalt tuneful stray along,        50
I will make repeated sallies,
  To catch the transport of thy song;
Then mutual joy shall swell our soul,
  Attendant to bright wisdom’s strain,
While we shall quaff the friendly bowl,        55
  Far from the noisy and the vain.
 
 
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