You vain, self-conscious little book,
Companion of my happy days,
How eagerly you seem to look
For wider fields to spread your lays;
My desk and locks cannot contain you,
Nor blush of modesty restrain you.
Well, then, begone, fool that thou art!
But do not come to me and cry,
When critics strike you to the heart:
"Oh, wretched little book am I!"
You know I tried to educate you
To shun the fate that must await you.
In youth you may encounter friends
(Pray this prediction be not wrong),
But wait until old age descends
And thumbs have smeared your gentlest song;
Then will the moths connive to eat you
And rural libraries secrete you.
However, should a friend some word
Of my obscure career request,
Tell him how deeply I was stirred
To spread my wings beyond the nest;
Take from my years, which are before you,
To boom my merits, I implore you.
Tell him that I am short and fat,
Quick in my temper, soon appeased,
With locks of gray,--but what of that?
Loving the sun, with nature pleased.
I'm more than four and forty, hark you,--
But ready for a night off, mark you!