1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

G., "On Reading the Distich, written on the Tomb of Mr. Gay, in Westminster Abbey" The Sun (16 January 1816).



Life's not a jest, most things show it;
Who says it is, can not know it.
Life's not a jest, since joy and pain,
Along the flux of time maintain
O'er life a mix'd and motley reign;
But joys in vices oft are found,
While pains more real still abound.
'Tis not a Christian's Epitaph,
Which purposes to make us laugh
At Sin, and Pain, and Death, and all
Which may our future states befal.
If Life's a jest, Religion must
Be buried in Oblivion's dust;
The Dean and Chapter, it were best,
Should do away this vicious jest;
A Jest, if true, is here misplac'd,
And shews a total want of taste.