Children running in the park Painting by Andrew Macaria
Here’s a poem by Alexander Pope, from his “Essay on Man” ( though I’ve never heard the word “pelf” before and wonder if he made it up!)
‘Human Folly’ – the poem
Whate’er the passions, knowledge, fame, or pelf,
Not one will change is neighbour with himself.
The learn’d is happy nature to explore
, The fool is happy that he knows no more;
The rich is happy in the plenty given,
The poor contents him with the care of Heaven,
See the blind beggar dance, the cripple sing
The sot a hero, lunatic a king;
The starving chemist in his golden views
Supremely bless’d, the poet in his Muse.
See some strange comfort ev’ry state attend,
And Pride bestow’d on all, a common friend:
See some fit passion every age supply;
Hope travels through, nor quits us when we die.
Behold the child, by Nature’s kindly law,
Pleas’d with a rattle, tickled with a straw:
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper state,
And beads and prayer-books are the toys of age:
Pleas’d with this bauble still, as that before,
Till tired he sleeps, and life’s poor play is o’er.
(Extract from ‘Essay on Man’, Epistle II)