Ballades and Verses Vain
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 stithy 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.
- Library of Alexandria, March 2015
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