Probably my favorite public intellectual/author is Voltaire. There's little I love more than thinking about the rivalry between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire. That's not really something that happens today. Sure Christopher Hitchens can take the piss out of Mos Def on national television, but it's not nearly as fun as thinking about two absolutely brilliant people publicly pronouncing their hatred for one another...especially when everyone likes Voltaire better because he wasn't such a grumpy old poop.

Anyway, on to the poetry!


by: Voltaire (Fran├žois Marie Arouet, 1694-1778)

      If you would have me love once more,
      The blissful age of love restore;
      From wine's free joys, and lovers' cares,
      Relentless time, who no man spares,
      Urges me quickly to retire,
      And no more to such bliss aspire.
      From such austerity exact,
      Let's, if we can, some good extract;
      Whose way of thinking with this age
      Suits not, can ne'er be deemed a sage.
      Let sprightly youth its follies gay,
      Its follies amiable display;
      Life to two moments is confined,
      Let one to wisdom be consigned.
      You sweet delusions of my mind,
      Still to my ruling passion kind,
      Which always brought a sure relief
      To life's accurst companion, grief.
      Will you forever from me fly,
      And must I joyless, friendless die?
      No mortal e'er resigns his breath
      I see, without a double death;
      Who loves, and is beloved no more,
      His hapless fate may well deplore;
      Life's loss may easily be borne,
      Of love bereft man is forlorn.
      'Twas thus those pleasures I lamented,
      Which I so oft in youth repented;
      My soul replete with soft desire,
      Vainly regretted youthful fire.
      But friendship then, celestial maid,
      From heaven descended to my aid;
      Less lively than the amorous flame,
      Although her tenderness the same.
      The charms of friendship I admired,
      My soul was with new beauty fired;
      I then made one in friendship's train,
      But destitute of love, complain.

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