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   Chapter 29 No.29

The Poems of Jonathan Swift, D.D., Volume 1 By Jonathan Swift Characters: 1397

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03

Were I to form a regular thought of Fame,

Which is, perhaps, as hard t'imagine right,

As to paint Echo to the sight,

I would not draw the idea from an empty name;

Because, alas! when we all die,

Careless and ignorant posterity,

Although they praise the learning and the wit,

And though the title seems to show

The name and man by whom the book was writ,

Yet how shall they be brought to know,

Whether that very name was he, or you, or I?

Less should I daub it o'er with transitory praise,

And water-colours of these days:

These days! where e'en th'extravagance of poetry

Is at a loss for figures to express

Men's folly, whimseys, and inconstancy,


by a faint description makes them less.

Then tell us what is Fame, where shall we search for it?

Look where exalted Virtue and Religion sit,

Enthroned with heavenly Wit!

Look where you see

The greatest scorn of learned vanity!

(And then how much a nothing is mankind!

Whose reason is weigh'd down by popular air,

Who, by that, vainly talks of baffling death;

And hopes to lengthen life by a transfusion of breath,

Which yet whoe'er examines right will find

To be an art as vain as bottling up of wind!)

And when you find out these, believe true Fame is there,

Far above all reward, yet to which all is due:

And this, ye great unknown! is only known in you.

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