How many a father have I seen,
      A sober man, among his boys,
      Whose youth was full of foolish noise,
Who wears his manhood hale and green:

And dare we to this fancy give,
      That had the wild oat not been sown,
      The soil, left barren, scarce had grown
The grain by which a man may live?

Or, if we held the doctrine sound
      For life outliving heats of youth,
      Yet who would preach it as a truth
To those that eddy round and round?

Hold thou the good: define it well:
      For fear divine Philosophy
      Should push beyond her mark, and be
Procuress to the Lords of Hell.

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Last modified 12 February 2010