Thursday, January 27, 2022

For a House Full of Books, and a Garden of Flowers

Ballade of True Wisdom
by Andrew Lang


While others are asking for beauty or fame,
Or praying to know that for which they should pray,
Or courting Queen Venus, that affable dame,
Or chasing the Muses the weary and grey,
The sage has found out a more excellent way--
To Pan and to Pallas his incense he showers,
And his humble petition puts up day by day,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers. 

Inventors may bow to the God that is lame,
And crave from the fire on his smithy a ray;
Philosophers kneel to the God without name,
Like the people of Athens, agnostics are they;
The hunter a fawn to Diana will slay,
The maiden wild roses will wreathe for the Hours;
But the wise man will ask, ere libation he pay,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers. 

Oh! grant me a life without pleasure or blame
(As mortals count pleasure who rush through their day
With a speed to which that of the tempest is tame)!
O grant me a house by the beach of a bay,
Where the waves can be surly in winter, and play
With the sea-weed in summer, ye bountiful powers !
And I'd leave all the hurry, the noise, and the fray,
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers. 

 ENVOY
Gods, grant or withhold it; your “yea” and your “nay"
Are immutable, heedless of outcry of ours :
But life is worth living, and here we would stay
For a house full of books, and a garden of flowers.

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