Let us drink and be merry – Thomas Jordan

Let us drink and be merry

Let us drink and be merry, dance, joke, and rejoice,
With claret and sherry, theorbo and voice!
The changeable world to our joy is unjust,
All treasure’s uncertain,
Then down with your dust!
In frolics dispose your pounds, shillings, and pence,
For we shall be nothing a hundred years hence.

We’ll sport and be free with Moll, Betty, and Dolly,
Have oysters and lobsters to cure melancholy:
Fish-dinners will make a man spring like a flea,
Dame Venus, love’s lady,
Was born of the sea:
With her and with Bacchus we’ll tickle the sense,
For we shall be past it a hundred years hence.

Your most beautiful bride who with garlands is crown’d
And kills with each glance as she treads on the ground.
Whose lightness and brightness doth shine in such splendour
That one but the stars
Are thought fit to attend her,
Though now she be pleasant and sweet to the sense,
Will be damnable mouldy a hundred years hence.

Then why should we turmoil in cares and in fears,
Turn all our tranquill’ty to sighs and to tears?
Let’s eat, drink, and play till the worms do corrupt us,
’Tis certain, Post mortem
Nulla voluptas.
For health, wealth and beauty, wit, learning and sense,
Must all come to nothing a hundred years hence.

Thomas Jordan (1612-1685)

The poem is well crafted – iambic with rhyming couplets – it has been labelled a song and it does have a nice rhythmic beat.

Theorbo – plucked string instrument of the lute family
Venus – Goddess of love and beauty
Bacchus – God of wine
Post mortem nulla voluptas – after death no pleasure remains

Interesting that oysters were known as an aphrodisiac over four hundred years ago.

Well it is the season to be merry. Thomas Jordan is not thinking of Christmas – quite clearly he is thinking of death of where he, or others, will be in a hundred years’ time.

To me the words have a sense of ‘must’ and a sense of urgency while accepting that we only have this moment – the now to be enjoyed in all its’ fullness. But in my book when you try to force merriment the party often falls flat.

Having said that I insist you have a ‘merry’ Christmas.

Anyway isn’t Christmas the celebration of the birth of life eternal so who knows what pleasures will be unwrapped in the future! Well one day we all may know.

A link to Thomas Jordan on Wikipedia.

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