His Content in the Country
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.