The Wants of Man

Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38 NIV)

Yesterday we pondered how we might respond to the Lord’s question, “What do you want?” I encourage you to read that post before reading this one, only as this is intended as a “closing thought” on the previous post. with that in mind, I now submit for your enrichment a delightful poetic masterpiece from John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States.

The Wants of Man

by John Quincy AdamsJohn_Quincy_Adams_1824

“MAN wants but little here below, Nor wants that little long.”
‘Tis not with me exactly so;┬áBut ’tis so in the song.
My wants are many and, if told, Would muster many a score;
And were each wish a mint of gold, I still should long for more.

What first I want is daily bread, and canvas-backs, and wine.
And all the realms of nature spread Before me, when I dine.
Four courses scarcely can provide My appetite to quell;
With four choice cooks from France beside, To dress my dinner well.

What next I want, at princely cost, Is elegant attire :
Black sable furs for winter’s frost, And silks for summer’s fire,
And Cashmere shawls, and Brussels lace My bosom’s front to deck, –
And diamond rings my hands to grace, And rubies for my neck.

I want (who does not want?) a wife, — Affectionate and fair;
To solace all the woes of life, And all its joys to share.
Of temper sweet, of yielding will, Of firm, yet placid mind, –
With all my faults to love me still With sentiment refined.

And as Time’s car incessant runs, And Fortune fills my store,
I want of daughters and of sons From eight to half a score.
I want (alas! can mortal dare Such bliss on earth to crave?)
That all the girls be chaste and fair, The boys all wise and brave.

I want a warm and faithful friend, To cheer the adverse hour,
Who ne’er to flatter will descend, Nor bend the knee to power;
A friend to chide me when I’m wrong, My inmost soul to see;
And that my friendship prove as strong For him as his for me.

I want the seals of power and place, The ensigns of command;
Charged by the People’s unbought grace To rule my native land.
Nor crown nor scepter would I ask But from my country’s will,
By day, by night, to ply the task Her cup of bliss to fill.

I want the voice of honest praise To follow me behind,
And to be thought in future days The friend of human-kind,
That after ages, as they rise, Exulting may proclaim
In choral union to the skies Their blessings on my name.

These are the Wants of mortal Man, — I cannot want them long,
For life itself is but a span, And earthly bliss — a song.
My last great Want — absorbing all — Is, when beneath the sod,
And summoned to my final call, The Mercy of my God.

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