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Poem by Jonathan Swift
Elegy on Partridge
Well; 'tis as Bickerstaff has guess'd, Though we all took it for a jest: Partridge is dead; nay more, he died Ere he could prove the good 'squire lied. Strange, an astrologer should die Without one wonder in the sky! Not one of his crony stars To pay their duty at his hearse! No meteor, no eclipse appear'd! No comet with a flaming beard! The sun has rose, and gone to bed, Just as if Partridge were not dead; Nor hid himself behind the moon To make a dreadful night at noon. He at fit periods walks through Aries, Howe'er our earthly motion varies; And twice a year he'll cut the equator, As if there had been no such matter. Some wits have wonder'd what analogy There is 'twixt cobbling and astrology; How Partridge made his optics rise From a shoe-sole to reach the skies. A list the cobbler's temples ties, To keep the hair out of his eyes; From whence 'tis plain, the diadem That princes wear derives from them: And therefore crowns are nowadays Adorn'd with golden stars and rays: Which plainly shows the near alliance 'Twixt cobbling and the planets science. Besides, that slow-pac'd sign Bootes, As 'tis miscall'd, we know not who 'tis: But Partridge ended all disputes; He knew his trade, and call'd it boots. The horned moon, which heretofore Upon their shoes the Romans wore, Whose wideness kept their toes from corns, And whence we claim our shoeing-horns, Shows how the art of cobbling bears A near resemblance to the spheres. A scrap of parchment hung by geometry (A great refinement in barometry) Can, like the stars, foretell the weather; And what is parchment else but leather? Which an astrologer might use Either for almanacs or shoes. Thus Partridge by his wit and parts At once did practise both these arts: And as the boding owl (or rather The bat, because her wings are leather) Steals from her private cell by night, And flies about the candle-light; So learned Partridge could as well Creep in the dark from leathern cell, And in his fancy fly as far To peep upon a twinkling star. Besides, he could confound the spheres, And set the planets by the ears; To show his skill, he Mars could join To Venus in aspect malign; Then call in Mercury for aid, And cure the wounds that Venus made. Great scholars have in Lucian read, When Philip king of Greece was dead, His soul and spirit did divide, And each part took a different side: One rose a star; the other fell Beneath, and mended shoes in hell. Thus Partridge still shines in each art, The cobbling and star-gazing part, And is install'd as good a star As any of the Caesars are. Triumphant star! some pity show On cobblers militant below, Whom roguish boys in stormy nights Torment by pissing out their lights, Or thro' a chink convey their smoke Inclos'd artificers to choke. Thou, high exalted in thy sphere, May'st follow still thy calling there. To thee the Bull will lend his hide, By Phoebus newly tann'd and dry'd: For thee they Argo's hulk will tax, And scrape her pitchy sides for wax; Then Ariadne kindly lends Her braided hair to make thee ends; The point of Sagittarius' dart Turns to an awl by heav'nly art; And Vulcan, wheedled by his wife, Will forge for thee a paring-knife. For want of room by Virgo's side, She'll strain a point, and sit astride, To take thee kindly in between; And then the signs will be thirteen. THE EPITAPH. Here, five foot deep, lies on his back A cobbler, star-monger, and quack; Who to the stars in pure good-will Does to his best look upward still. Weep, all you customers that use His pills, his almanacs, or shoes: And you that did your fortunes seek, Step to his grave but once a week: This earth, which bears his body's print, You'll find has so much virtue in't, That I durst pawn my ears 't will tell Whate'er concerns you full as well, In physic, stolen goods, or love, As he himself could, when above.
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