Eighteenth Century Pastimes
Another parlor game, sirrah, or sport
of honor with blades or blunderbuss
pistols? To finger a harpsichord rescued
from fire so hot on a snow-driven
night--by our melody we know it's best
to be reborn on Venus instead of Mars. To savor this
perfume: We may cheat at trick
taking games, spread our cards to kill
an hour with ruff-and-honours, blast
a quail or hum some Dryden--these moments feign
eternity. We won't be interrupted. The vicar's
fist on our heart pine door to give us
blessings, a sleight of hand that kindles
the beginnings that cast the shadow of our end.
At age 16, Thomas Chatterton invented the imaginary persona of a 15th-century poet and tried to pass off the poems as the work of a previously unknown priest to the literati of London. When that and other attempts to help his mother and sister out of poverty failed, he committed suicide, decades later being credited as the founding spirit of Romanticism.