His Content in the Country

Meal. Jane Steen. 1650.


His Content in the Country

Robert Herrick


Here, here I live with what my board

Can with the smallest cost afford;

Though ne’er so mean the viands be,

They well content my Prue and me:

Or pea or bean, or wort or beet,

Whatever comes, Content makes sweet.

Here we rejoice, because no rent

We pay for our poor tenement;

Wherein we rest, and never fear

The landlord or the usurer.

The quarter-day does ne’er affright

Our peaceful slumbers in the night:

We eat our own, and batten more,

Because we feed on no man’s score;

But pity those whose flanks grow great,

Swell’d with the lard of other’s meat.

We bless our fortunes, when we see

Our own beloved privacy;

And like our living, where we’re known

To very few, or else to none.


Prew was Herrick’s housemaid Prewdence Baldwin.

‘Viands’ is food. A ‘usurer’ is one who lends money at an unreasonable rate of interest. The ‘quarter-day’ was one of four days of the year regarded as the beginning of a new season or quarter; quarterly payments were due then. A ‘score’ is a running account. ‘Lard’ is ‘fat,’ specifically of pork.