The Wants of Man

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Man wants but little here below,Nor wants that little long. -- Goldsmith's Hermit


"Man wants but little here below, Nor wants that little long."'Tis not with ME exactly so; But 'tis so in the song.MY wants are many, and if told Would muster many a score;And were each wish a mint of gold, I still should long for more.


What first I want is daily bread, And canvas backs and wine;And all the realms of nature spread Before me when I dine.Four courses scarcely can provide My appetite to quell;With four choice cooks from France, beside, To dress my dinner well.


What next I want, at heavy cost, Is elegant attire;--Black sable furs, for winter's frost, And silks for summer's fire,And Cashmere shawls, and Brussels lace My bosom's front to deck,And diamond rings my hands to grace, And rubies for my neck.


And then I want a mansion fair, A dwelling house, in style,Four stories high, for wholesome air-- A massive marble pile;With halls for banquets and balls, All furnished rich and fine;With stabled studs in fifty stalls, And cellars for my wine.


I want a garden and a park, My dwelling to surround--A thousand acres (bless the mark), With walls encompassed round--Where flocks may range and herds may low, And kids and lambkins play,And flowers and fruits commingled grow, All Eden to display.


I want, when summer's foliage falls, And autumn strips the trees,A house within the city's walls, For comfort and for ease.But here, as space is somewhat scant, And acres somewhat rare,My house in town I only want To occupy-- --a square.


I want a steward, butler, cooks; A coachman, footman, grooms,A library of well-bound books, And picture-garnished rooms;Corregio's Magdalen, and Night, The matron of the chair;Guido's fleet coursers in their flight, And Claudes at least a pair.


I want a cabinet profuse Of medals, coins, and gems;A printing press, for private use, Of fifty thousand EMS;And plants, and minerals, and shells; Worms, insects, fishes, birds;And every beast on earth that dwells, In solitude or herds.


I want a board of burnished plate, Of silver and of gold;Tureens of twenty pounds in weight, With sculpture's richest mould;Plateaus, with chandeliers and lamps, Plates, dishes--all the same;And porcelain vases, with the stamps Of Sevres, Angouleme.


And maples, of fair glossy stain, Must form my chamber doors,And carpets of the Wilton grain Must cover all my floors;My walls, with tapestry bedeck'd, Must never be outdone;And damask curtains must protect Their colors from the sun.


And mirrors of the largest pane From Venice must be brought;And sandal-wood, and bamboo cane, For chairs and tables bought;On all the mantel-pieces, clocks Of thrice-gilt bronze must stand,And screens of ebony and box Invite the stranger's hand.


I want (who does not want?) a wife, Affectionate and fair,To solace all the woes of life, And all its joys to share;Of temper sweet, of yielding will, Of firm, yet placid mind,With all my faults to love me still, With sentiment refin'd.


And as Time's car incessant runs, And Fortune fills my store,I want of daughters and of sons From eight to half a score.I want (alas! can mortal dare Such bliss on earth to crave?)That all the girls be chaste and fair-- The boys all wise and brave.


And when my bosom's darling sings, With melody divine,A pedal harp of many strings Must with her voice combine.A piano, exquisitely wrought, Must open stand, apart,That all my daughters may be taught To win the stranger's heart.


My wife and daughters will desire Refreshment from perfumes,Cosmetics for the skin require, And artificial blooms.The civit fragrance shall dispense, And treasur'd sweets return;Cologne revive the flagging sense, And smoking amber burn.


And when at night my weary head Begins to droop and dose,A southern chamber holds my bed, For nature's soft repose;With blankets, counterpanes, and sheet, Mattrass, and bed of down,And comfortable for my feet, And pillows for my crown.


I want a warm and faithful friend, To cheer the adverse hour,Who ne'er to flatter will descend, Nor bend the knee to power;A friend to chide me when I'm wrong, My inmost soul to see;And that my friendship prove as strong For him, as his for me.


I want a kind and tender heart, For others wants to feel;A soul secure from Fortune's dart, And bosom arm'd with steel;To bear divine chastisement's rod. And mingling in my plan,Submission to the will of God, With charity to man.


I want a keen, observing eye, An ever-listening ear,The truth through all disguise to spy, And wisdom's voice to hear;A tongue, to speak at virtue's need, In Heaven's sublimest strain;And lips, the cause of man to plead, And never plead in vain.


I want uninterrupted health, Throughout my long career,And streams of never-failing wealth, To scatter far and near;The destitute to clothe and feed, Free bounty to bestow;Supply the helpless orphan's need, And soothe the widow's woe.


I want the genius to conceive, The talents to unfold,Designs, the vicious to retrieve, The virtuous to uphold;Inventive power, combining skill, A persevering soul,Of human hearts to mould the will, And reach from pole to pole.


I want the seals of power and place, The ensigns of command;Charged by the people's unbought grace To rule my native land.Nor crown nor sceptre would I ask But from my country's will,By day, by night, to ply the task Her cup of bliss to fill.


I want the voice of honest praise To follow me behind,And to be thought in future days The friend of human kind;That after ages, as they rise, Exulting may proclaim,In choral union to the skies, Their blessings on my name.


These are the wants of mortal man; I cannot want them long,For life itself is but a span, And earthly bliss a song.My last great want, absorbing all, Is, when beneath the sod,And summoned to my final call, The mercy of my God.


And oh! while circles in my veins Of life the purple stream,And yet a fragment small remains Of nature's transient dream,My soul, in humble hope unscar'd, Forget not thou to pray,That this thy WANT may be prepared To meet the Judgment Day.

© Adams John Quincy