Tuesday, July 29, 2014


"Man wants but little here below"
Oliver Wendell Holmes

 Little I ask; my wants are few;
 I only wish a hut of stone
(A very plain brownstone will do),
 That I may call my own:
 And close at hand is such a one,
 In yonder street that fronts the sun.

Plain food is quite enough for me;
 Three courses are as good as ten;
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank Heaven for three. Amen!
 I always thought cold victual nice;
My choice would be vanilla-ice.

 I care not much for gold or land;
Give me a mortgage here and there,
 Some good bank-stock, some note of hand,
 Or a trifling railroad share,
 I only ask that Fortune send
 A little more than I shall spend.

 Honors are silly toys, I know,
 And titles are but empty names;
 I would, perhaps be Plenipo,
 But only near St. James;
 I'm very sure I should not care
 To fill our Gubernator's chair.

Jewels are bawbles; 'tis a sin
 To care for such unfruitful things;
 One good-sized diamond in a pin,
 Some, not so large in rings,
 A ruby, and a pearl, or so,
 Will do for me; I laugh at show.

 My dame should dress in cheap attire;
 (Good, heavy silks are never dear;)
I own perhaps I might desire
Some shaw is of true Cashmere,
Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
 Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.

 I would not have the horse I drive 
So fast that folks must stop and stare;
And easy gait- two, forty-five
Suits me; I do not care;
Perhaps, for just a single spurt 
Some seconds less would do no hurt.

Of pictures, I should like to own
 Titians and Raphaels three or four,
 I love so much their style and tone,
 One Turner, and no more,
 (A landscape,-foreground golden dirt,
 The sunshine painted with a squirt.)

Of books but few,-some fifty score
 For daily use, and bound for wear;
The rest upon an upper floor;
 Some little luxury there
 Of red morocco's gilded gleam,
 And vellum rich as country cream.

Busts, cameos, gems,-such things as these
 Which others often show for pride,
 I value for their power to please,
And selfish churls deride;
 One Stradivarius, I confess,
 Two meerschaums,
 I would fain possess.

Wealth's wasteful tricks I will not learn
 Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;
Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
 But all must be of burl?
 Give gasping pomp its double share,
 I ask but one recumbent chair.

Thus humble let me live and die,
 Nor long for Midas's golden touch;
 If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
I shall not miss them much)
 Too grateful for the blessing lent
 Of simple tastes and mind content!

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