Archive for July 8th, 2019

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Cynic by St. George Tucker

Whoever to finding fault inclines
Still misconceives the best designs:
Praxiteles in vain might try
To form a statue for his eye;
Appelles too would pain in vain,
And Titian’s colors give him pain,
Palladio’s best designs displease him,
And Handel’s water piece would freeze him,
Not Tully’s eloquence can charm,
Nor e’en old Homer’s fire warm:
On all occasions still a beast
He frowns upon the genial feast,
Swears that Falernian wine was sour,
And rails at champagne for an hour,
Not Heliogabalus’s cook
Could drop a dish at which he’d look.

Anticipating time and fate
He views all things when past their date,
Destruction in his noodle brewing
Turns palaces to instant ruin:
Speak but of Paris or of London
He tells how Babylon was undone:
Ask him, with Thais if he’ll sup,
He cries — ” The worms will eat her up. ”

Once at a merry wedding feast
A cynic chanced to be a guest;
Rich was the father of the bride
And hospitality his pride.
The guests were numerous and the board
With dainties plentifully stored.
There mutton, beef, and vermicelli,
Here venison stewed with currant jelly,
Here turkeys robbed of bones and lungs
Are crammed with oysters and with tongues.
There pickled lobsters, prawn, and salmon
And there a stuffed Virginia gammon.
Here custards, tarts, and apple pies
There syllabubs and jellies rise,
Ice creams, and ripe and candied fruits
With comfits and eryngo roots.
Now entered every hungry guest
And all prepared to taste the feast.
Our cynic cries — ” How damned absurd
To take such pains to make a — ! ”

From: Harmon, William (ed.), The Oxford Book of American Light Verse, 1979, Oxford University Press: New York and Oxford, pp. 9-10.
(https://archive.org/details/oxfordbookofamer00amer)

Date: 1789

By: St. George Tucker (1752-1827)