Anonymous, “[On Tobacco, a translation”]


 [“On Tobacco, a translation”]

Sweet charmer of my solitude,
Brilliant pipe, consuming tube,
Who clear’st the vapours from my brain,
And my mind from anxious pain!
Tobacco! source of my delight,                                      5
When I see thee quit my sight,
And vanish in the purer air,
Like the lightning’s quick career,
I see the image of my life below,
And whither soon my breath must go.                      10
By thee I trace, in colours strong,
That man is nothing but a song,
An animated heap of clay,
The jest and sport of but a day;
That as thy smoke I pass away,                                    15
An emblem of my own decay.


Title This poem appears without a title in the Gentleman’s Magazine, but includes the following prefatory comment: “Mr. Urban, I send you the following French verses written by a Monk, with the translation. A.P.P.”

2 Consuming tube A reference to the reed stem pipe, which was developed in the eighteenth-century. These pipes were made with a natural reed stem, resembling a tube, which slips into a bowl.

 3-4 In the eighteenth-century, tobacco was used to treat anything from colic to vomit, hernia, rheumatic pains, and various infirmities including anxiety.

 Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (April, 1785), p. 308.

 Edited by Farnam Adelkhani

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