I joined Chris Walke (a musician at Grace) at Bull and Bear this week for the purchase of his first briar pipe. It was a good time, though I succumbed to temptation and wound up buying another pipe myself. In celebration of Chris' recent purchase I offer two poems for your enjoyment; one sacred, and one secular.
Smoking Spiritualized by Ralph Erskine (1685-1752)
This Indian weed now wither'd quite, Tho' green at noon, cut down at night, Shows thy decay; All flesh is hay. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
The pipe, so lily-like and weak, Does thus thy mortal state bespeak Thou art ev'n such, Gone with a touch. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
And when the smoke ascends on high, Then thou behold'st the vanity Of worldy stuff, Gone with a puff. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
And when the pipe grows foul within, Think on thy soul defil'd with sin; For then the fire, It does require. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
And seest the ashes cast away; Then to thyself thou mayest say, That to the dust Return thou must. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
Was this small plant for thee cut down! So was the Plant of great renown; Which mercy sends For nobler ends. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
Doth juice medicinal proceed From such a naughty foreign weed? Then what's the power Of Jesse's flower? Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
The promise, like the pipe, inlays, And by the mouth of faith conveys What virtue flows From Sharon's rose. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
In vain th' unlighted pipe you blow; Your pains in outward means are so, Till heav'nly fire The heart inspire. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
The smoke, like burning incense, tow'rs; So should a praying heart of yours, With ardent cries, Surmount the skies. Thus think, and smoke tobacco.
And a German folk song...
When My Pipe Burns Bright When my pipe burns bright and clear, The gods I need not envy here; And as the smoke fades in the wind, Our fleeting life it brings to mind.
Noble weed that comforts life, And art with calmest pleasures rife; Heaven grant thee sun and rain, And to thy planter health and gain.
Through thee, friend of my solitude, With hope and patience I'm imbued; Deep sinks thy power within my heart, And cares and sorrows all depart.
Then let non-smokers rail forever, Shall their hard words true friends dissever? Pleasure's too rare to cast away, My pipe, for what the railers say!
When love grows cool, thy fire still warms me, When friends are fled, thy presence charms me; If thou art full, though purse be bare, I smoke and cast away all care!