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Poem by Jonathan Swift
On a Candle
Of all inhabitants on earth, To man alone I owe my birth, And yet the cow, the sheep, the bee, Are all my parents more than he: I, a virtue, strange and rare, Make the fairest look more fair, And myself, which yet is rarer, Growing old, grow still the fairer. Like sots, alone I'm dull enough, When dosed with smoke, and smear'd with snuff; But, in the midst of mirth and wine, I with double lustre shine. Emblem of the Fair am I, Polish'd neck, and radiant eye; In my eye my greatest grace, Emblem of the Cyclops' race; Metals I like them subdue, Slave like them to Vulcan too; Emblem of a monarch old, Wise, and glorious to behold; Wasted he appears, and pale, Watching for the public weal: Emblem of the bashful dame, That in secret feeds her flame, Often aiding to impart All the secrets of her heart; Various is my bulk and hue, Big like Bess, and small like Sue: Now brown and burnish'd like a nut, At other times a very slut; Often fair, and soft, and tender, Taper, tall, and smooth, and slender: Like Flora, deck'd with various flowers, Like Phoebus, guardian of the hours: But whatever be my dress, Greater be my size or less, Swelling be my shape or small, Like thyself I shine in all. Clouded if my face is seen, My complexion wan and green, Languid like a love-sick maid, Steel affords me present aid. Soon or late, my date is done, As my thread of life is spun; Yet to cut the fatal thread Oft revives my drooping head; Yet I perish in my prime, Seldom by the death of time; Die like lovers as they gaze, Die for those I live to please; Pine unpitied to my urn, Nor warm the fair for whom I burn: Unpitied, unlamented too, Die like all that look on you.
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