King Dionysius and Squire Damocles by Hannah More

 

KING DIONYSIUS AND SQUIRE DAMOCLES
A NEW SONG TO AN OLD STORY
PROPER TO BE SUNG AT ALL FEASTS AND MERRY MEETINGS
By Hannah More


There was a heathen man, sir,
Belonging to a king;
And still it was his plan, sir,
To covet every thing.


And if you don’t believe me,
I’ll name him, if you please;
For let me not deceive ye,
’Twas one Squire Damocles.


He thought that jolly living
Must every joy afford;
His heart knew no misgiving,
While round the festive board.


He wanted to be great, sir,
And feed on fare delicious,
And have his feasts in state, sir,
Just like King Dionysius.


The king, to cure his longing,
Prepared a feast so fine,
That all the court were thronging
To see the courtier dine.


And there, to tempt his eye, sir,
Was fish, and flesh, and fowl;
And when he was a-dry, sir,
There stood the brimming bowl.


Nor did the king forbid him
From drinking all he could;
The monarch never chid him,
But filled him with his food.


O then to see the pleasure
Squire Damocles expressed!
’Twas joy beyond all measure:
Was ever man so blessed?


With greedy eyes the squire
Devoured each costly dainty;
You’d think he did aspire
To eat as much as twenty.


But, just as he prepared; sir,
Of bliss to take a swing,
O, how the man was scared, sir,
By this so cruel king!


When he to eat intended,
Lo! just above his head,
He spied a sword suspended
All by a single thread.


How did it change the feasting
To wormwood and to gall,
To think, while he was tasting,
The pointed sword might fall!


Then in a moment’s time, sir,
He loathed the luscious feast;
And dreaded as a crime, sir,
The brimming bowl to taste.


Now, if you’re for applying
The story I have told,
I think there’s no denying
‘Tis worth its weight in gold.


Ye gay, who view this stranger,
And pity his sad case;
And think there was great danger
In such a fearful place;


Come, let this awful truth, sir,
In all your minds be stored;
To each intemperate youth, sir,
Death is that pointed sword.


And though you see no reason
To check your mirth at all,
In some licentious season
The sword on you may fall.


So learn, while, at your ease, sir,
You drink down draughts delicious,
To think of Damocles, sir,
And old King Dionysius.