[“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