I am content, I do not care

Once more, I have been lazy and allowed my blog to go completely dormant over the last month. Did you miss me? Perhaps you did, perhaps you didn’t — today, I am content not to care.

Now, now — don’t be offended. That sounds far more harsh than I actually mean it to. I’m just playing with words from a poem I’ve just discovered that is not only excellent, but will perhaps become my life’s mantra from this point, onward: Careless Content by John Byrom.

I must confess that, before this afternoon, I had no idea who John Byrom was, and would still be unaware of him now had I not been forced by considerable boredom to poke around my bookshelves looking for something to read. In scanning my shelves, my eye landed on an anthology I’d bought a few years ago (very cheaply, might I add) at a MESS book sale: The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse (sounds exhilarating, does it not?). I dusted it off and flung it on my bed, “Why not?” I thought.

And so, while waiting on my supper to cook, I started to flip through. I found some hilarious poems, some boring ones, and some that were too terribly long and tried my patience. I also, however, found this one poem — Careless Content — that I have now read ten times over I love it so much. It’s funny how pieces of literature, art, or music find their way into your life just as you need them, and this one fell into my life at so perfect a time that I am once again a little weirded out by the rule of serendipity that seems to reign my life.

Of course, I couldn’t help but share. Here it is:

I am content, I do not care,
Wag as it will the world for me;
When fuss and fret was all my fare,
It got no ground, as I could see:
So, when away my caring went,
I counted cost, and was content.
II
With more of thanks, and less of thought,
I strive to make my matters meet;
To seek, what ancient sages sought,
Physic and food in sour and sweet;
To take what passes in good part,
And keep the hiccups from the heart.
III
With good and gentle-humour’d hearts
I choose to chat where’er I come,
Whate’er the subject be that starts;
But if I get among the glum,
I hold my tongue to tell the troth,
And keep my breath to cool my broth.
IV
For chance or change, of peace or pain,
For Fortune’s favour, or her frown,
For lack or glut, for loss or gain,
I never dodge, nor up nor down;
But swing what way the ship shall swim,
Or tack about, with equal trim.
V
I suit not where I shall not speed,
Nor trace the turn of ev’ry tide;
If simple sense will not succeed,
I make no bustling, but abide:
For shining wealth, or scaring woe,
I force no friend, I fear no foe.
VI
Of Ups and Downs, of Ins and Outs,
Of “they’re i’ th’ wrong,” and “we’re i’ th’ right,”
I shun the rancours, and the routs;
And, wishing well to every wight,
Whatever turn the matter takes,
I deem it all but ducks and drakes.
VII
With whom I feast I do not fawn,
Nor if the folks should flout me, faint;
If wonted welcome be withdrawn,
I cook no kind of a complaint,—
With none dispos’d to disagree;
But like them best, who best like me.
VIII
Not that I rate myself the rule
How all my betters should behave;
But fame shall find me no man’s fool,
Nor to a set of men a slave;
I love a friendship free and frank,
And hate to hang upon a hank.
IX
Fond of a true and trusty tie,
I never loose where’er I link;
Tho’, if a bus’ness budges by,
I talk thereon just as I think:
My word, my work, my heart, my hand,
Still on a side together stand.
X
If names or notions make a noise,
Whatever hap the question hath,
The point impartially I poise,
And read or write, but without wrath:
For, should I burn or break my brains,
Pray, who will pay me for my pains?
XI
I love my neighbour as myself,
Myself like him too, by his leave;
Nor to his pleasure, pow’r or pelf,
Come I to crouch, as I conceive;
Dame nature doubtless has design’d
A man the monarch of his mind.
XII
Now taste and try this temper, sirs,
Mood it and brood it in your breast;
Or, if ye ween, for worldly stirs
That man does right to mar his rest,
Let me be deft and debonair:
I am content, I do not care.
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