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Charles Cotton (Чарльз Коттон)


Clepsydra


WHY, let is run! who bids it stay?
  Let us the while be merry;
Time there in water creeps away,
  With us it posts in sherry.

Time not employ'd's empty sound,
  Nor did kind Heaven lend it,
But that the glass should quick go round,
  And men in pleasure spend it.

Then set thy foot, brave boy, to mine,
  Ply quick to cure our thinking;
An hour-glass in an hour of wine
  Would be but lazy drinking.

The man that snores the hour-glass out
  Is truly a time-waster,
But we, who troll this glass about,
  Make him to post it faster.

Yet though he flies so fast, some think,
  'Tis well known to the sages,
He'll not refuse to stay and drink,
  And yet perform his stages.

Time waits us whilst we crown the hearth,
  And dotes on ruby faces,
And knows that this carrier of mirth
  Will help to mend our paces:

He stays with him that loves good time,
  And never does refuse it,
And only runs away from him
  That knows not how to use it.

He only steals by without noise
  From those in grief that waste it,
But lives with the mad roaring boys
  That husband it, and taste it.

The moralist perhaps may prate
  Of virtue from his reading,
'Tis all but stale and foisted chat
  To men of better breeding.

Time, to define it, is the space
  That men enjoy their being;
'Tis not the hour, but drinking glass,
  Makes time and life agreeing.

He wisely does oblige his fate
  Does cheerfully obey it,
And is of fops the greatest that
  By temp'rance thinks to stay it.

Come, ply the glass then quick about,
  To titillate the gullet,
Sobriety's no charm, I doubt,
  Against a cannon-bullet. 

[Ed. Note: A clepsydra is a water clock which uses drops of water to measure the passage of time. --Nelson]



Charles Cotton's other poems:
  1. The Noon Quatrains
  2. The Angler's Ballad


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