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Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.

Poems: 1718–27

To Mrs. M. B. on Her Birthday

  • Written to Martha Blount in 1723. Lines 5–10 were elsewhere adapted for a versified celebration of his own birthday, and for an epitaph on a suicide!

  • OH, be thou blest with all that Heav’n can send,

    Long Health, long Youth, long Pleasure, and a Friend:

    Not with those Toys the female world admire,

    Riches that vex, and Vanities that tire.

    With added years if Life bring nothing new,

    But, like a sieve, let ev’ry blessing thro’,

    Some joy still lost, as each vain year runs o’er,

    And all we gain, some sad Reflection more;

    Is that a birthday? ’t is alas! too clear,

    ’T is but the funeral of the former year.

    Let Joy or Ease, let Affluence or Content,

    And the gay Conscience of a life well spent,

    Calm ev’ry thought, inspirit ev’ry grace,

    Glow in thy heart, and smile upon thy face.

    Let day improve on day, and year on year,

    Without a Pain, a Trouble, or a Fear;

    Till Death unfelt that tender frame destroy,

    In some soft dream, or extasy of joy,

    Peaceful sleep out the Sabbath of the Tomb,

    And wake to raptures in a life to come.