Sunday 27 November 2011

A hundred years hence

This macabre song often runs through my head. It was written at a time when "The year of One Thousand Eight Hundred and Three" was a hundred years in the future. It seems appropriate on the eve of my birthday. The hot girls in 1703 were just as painfully attractive as the ones today, although their breath was less sweet.

1703 is such an interesting moment when modern England is inchoate. The King has been exiled, what Disraeli called Dutch finance has been brought in, the United Kingdom is about to be created and yet we still have the very last Cavalier Poets and the faint traces of the Elizabethan lyrical tradition.

Let us drink and be merry, dance joke and rejoice,
With claret and sherry, the oboe and voice,
This wicked old world, to our joy is unjust,
All treasures uncertain, then down with your dust.
In frolic dispence your pounds, shillings and pence,
For we shall be nothing an hundred years hence.

We will sport and be free with Fran, Betty and Dolly,
Take lobsters and oysters to cure melancholy.
Each dinner we'll take them and spring like a flea
Dame Venus, thus maybe, was born of the sea.
With her an with Bacchus, we'll tickle the sense
For we shall be passed it an hundred years hence.

Your beautiful piece, who has all eyes upon her
Who, her honesty sells, for an hogo of honour,
Whose lightness and brightness doth cause such a splendour
That none are thought fit, but the stars, to attend her.
Although she seems pleasant and sweet to the sense,
She'll be damnably mouldy an hundred years hence.

Your plush coated quack who, his fees to enlarge,
Kills people with licence and at their own charge,
Who builds a vast structure of ill-gotten wealth
from the dregs of a piss-pot and ruins of health.
'Though treasures of life, he pretends to dispense,
He'll be turned into mummy an hundred years hence.

Your usurer who, in one hundred, takes twenty,
Who mourns in his wealth and who pines in his plenty
Saves up for a season he never shall see
The year of One Thousand Eight Hundred and Three
When he'll turn all his bags, all his houses and rents
For a worm eaten coffin an hundred years hence.

Aye, the poet himself, who so loftily sings
That he scorns any subject but Heroes and Kings,
Must to the capricios of Fortune submit
And oft times be thought a fool for his wit.
Thus Beauty, Wit, Wealth, Law, Learning and Sense
Must all come to nothing an hundred years hence.

 Thomas Jordan

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