Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Wants of Man by John Quincy Adams

This is a poem that I found in an old poetry book published in the late 1800's.

By John Quincy Adams

“Man wants but little here below,
            Nor wants that little long.”
            ‘Tis not with me exactly so,
            But ‘tis so in the song.
My wants are many, and if told,
            Would muster many a score;
            And were each wish a mint of gold,
            I should long for more.

What first I want is daily bread,
            And canvas-backs and wine;
And all the realms of nature spread
            Before me when I dine;
With four choice cooks from France, beside,
To dress my dinner well;
            Four courses scarcely can provide
            My appetite to quell.

What next I want, at heavy cost,
            Is elegant attire;
Black sable furs for winter’s frost,
            And silks for summer’s fire;
And cashmere shawls, and Brussels lace
            My bosom’s front to deck,
            And diamond rings my hands to grace,
            And rubies for my neck.

And then I want a mansion fair,
            A dwelling-house, in style,
            Four stories high, for wholesome air-
            A massive marble pile;
With halls for banquetings and balls,
            All furnished rich and fine;
With high-blood studs in fifty stalls,
            And cellars for my wine.

I want a garden and a park,
            My dwelling to surround-
            A thousand acres (bless the mark!)
            With walls encompassed round-
            Where flocks may range
And herds may low,
And kids and lambkins play,
And flowers and fruits commingled grow,
            All Eden to display.

I want, when summer’s foliage falls,
            And autumn strips the trees,
            A house within the city’s walls,
            For comfort and for ease;
But here as space is somewhat scant,
            And acres somewhat rare,
            My house in town I only want
            To occupy-a square.

I want a cabinet, profuse
            Of metals, coins, and gems;
A printing-press for private use,
            Of fifty thousand ems;
And plants, and minerals, and shells;
            Worms, insects, fishes, birds;
And every beast of earth that dwells
            In solitude or herds.

And maples of fair glossy stain,
            Must form my chamber doors,
            And carpets of the Wilton grain
            Must cover all my floors;
My walls with tapestry bedecked,
            Must never be outdone;
And damask curtains must protect
            Their colors from the sun.

And mirrors of the largest pane
            From Venice must be brought;
And sand-wood and bamboo-cane,
            For chairs and tables bought;
On all the mantel-pieces, clock
            Of thrice-gilt bronze must stand,
            And screens of ebony and box
            Invite the stranger’s hand.

I want (who does not want?) A wife,
            Affectionate and fair,
            To solace all the woes of life,
            And all its joys to share;
            Of temper sweet, of yielding will,
            Of firm yet placid mind,
            With all my faults to love me still,
            With sentiment refined.

And when my bosom’s darling sings,
            With melody divine,
            A pedal harp of many strings
            Must with her voice combine.
            Piano, exquisitely wrought,
            Must open stand, apart,
            That all my daughters may be taught
            To win the stranger’s heart.

My wife and daughters will desire
            Refreshment from perfumes,
            Cosmetics for the skin require,
            And artificial blooms.
            The civet fragrance shall dispense,
            And treasured sweets return;
Cologne revive the flagging sense,
            And smoking amber burn.

And when at night my weary head
            Begins to droop and dose,
            A chamber south, to hold my bed,
            For nature’s sole repose;
With blankets, counterpanes and sheet,
            Mattress, and sack of down,
            And comfortables for my feet,
            And pillows for my crown.

I want a warm and faithful friend,
            To cheer the adverse hour,
            Who ne’er to flatter will descend,
            Nor bend a knee to power;
A friend to chide me when I’m wrong,
            My inmost soul to see;
And that my friendship prove as strong
            For him, as his for me.

I want a kind and tender heart,
            For others’ wants to feel;
A soul secure from fortune’s dart,
            And a bosom armed with steel;
To bear Divine chastisement’s rod,
            And, mingling in my plan,
            Submission to the will of God,
            With charity to man.

I want a keen, observing eye,
            An ever-listening ear,
            The truth through all disguise to spy,
            And Wisdom’s voice to hear;
A tongue, to speak at virtues’ need,
            In heaven’s sublimest strain;
And lips, the cause of man to plead,
            And never plead in vain.

I want uninterrupted health,
Throughout my long career,
            And streams of never-failing wealth,
            To scatter far and near-
            The destitute to clothe and feed,
            Free bounty to bestow,
            Supply the helpless orphan’s need,
            And soothe the widow’s woe.

I want the seals of power and place,
            The ensigns of command,
            Charged by the people’s unbought grace,
            To rule my native land;
Nor crown, nor scepter would I ask,
            But from my country’s will,
            By day, by night, to ply the task
            Her cup of bliss to fill.

I want the voice of honest praise
            To follow me behind,
            And to be thought, in future days,
            The friend of human kind;
That after-ages, as they rise,
            Exulting may proclaim;
In choral union to the skies,
            Their blessings on my name.

These are the wants of mortal men;
I cannot need them long,
            For life itself is but a span,
            And earthly bliss a song.
            My greatest want, absorbing all,
            Is, when beneath the sod,
            And summoned to my final call-
            The mercy of my God.

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