Stella’s Birthday March 13, 1719
Stella this day is thirty-four,
(We shan’t dispute a year or more:)
However, Stella, be not troubled,
Although thy size and years are doubled,
Since first I saw thee at sixteen,
The brightest virgin on the green;
So little is thy form declin’d;
Made up so largely in thy mind.
Oh, would it please the gods to split
Thy beauty, size, and years, and wit;
No age could furnish out a pairs
Of nymphs so graceful, wise, and fair;
With half the lustre of your eyes,
With half your wit, your years, and size.
And then, before it grew too late,
How should I beg of gentle Fate,
(That either nymph might have her swain,)
To split my worship too in twain.
Swift’s flair for satire shows up in pretty much all of his poems. This was the first birthday-verse he sent “Stella” (Swift’s name for Miss Hester (Esther) Johnson (1681-1728)). He continued to write her one every year until her death. You can find some of his poems, including a mock elegy, here.
I had never heard of his poetry, until I came across this piece today. Gulliver’s Travels on the other hand is probably one of the most popular and accessible (satirical) fictional travelogues around.