Tuesday, November 27, 2012


To Laugh is Better than Learning

James Shirley (1596-1666), St. Patrick for Ireland (London: Printed by J. Raworth, for R. Whitaker, 1640), from Act V:
I neither will lend, nor borrow,
Old age will be here to morrow,
'Tis pleasure we are made for,
When death comes all is paid for:
    No matter what's the bill of fare,        5
    I'll take my cup, I'll take no care.

Be wise, and say you had warning,
To laugh is better than learning,
To weare no cloathes, not neat is,
But hunger is good where meat is:        10
    Give me wine, give me a wench,
    And let her Parrot talke in French.

It is a match worth the making,
To keepe the merrie thought waking;
A song is better than fasting,        15
And sorrow's not worth the tasting,
    Then keep your braine light as you can,
    An ounce of care will kill a man.
'Tis in line 3 is my conjectural emendation for 'This in the 1640 printed text. Most modern editions and anthologies seem to have This.

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