To Janus, On New- Years Day – an 18th century poem


Two-faced Janus, god of Time !

Be my Phoebus while I rhyme ;

To oblige your crony Swift,

Bring our dame a new-year’s gift;

She has got but half a face ;

Janus, since thou hast a brace,

To my lady once be kind;

Give her half thy face behind.


God of Time, if you be wise,

Look not with your future eyes ;

What imports thy forward sight ?

Well, if you could lose it quite.

Can you take delight in viewing

This poor Isle’sf approaching ruin,

When thy retrospection vast

Sees the glorious ages past ?

Happy nation, were we blind,

Or had only eyes behind !


Drown your morals, madam cries,

I’ll have none but forward eyes ;

Prudes decay’d about may tack,

Strain their necks with looking back.

Give me time when coming on ;

Who regards him when he’s gone ?


By the Dean though gravely told,

New-years help to make me old;

Yet I find a new-year’s lace

Burnishes an old-year’s face.

Give me velvet and quadrille,

l have youth and beauty still.

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