Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Virtuous Apathy of Cigars

Thomas Hood (1799 – 1845), a British humorist and poet, was apparently a cigar lover. He wrote a poem whose thrust is the ability of a cigar to allow withdrawal from the world, an experience which most cigar smoker has felt at one time or another. The desert fathers and Greek spiritual writers often urge the Christian to develop a sort of divine apathy--apatheia. In a way, what these writers suggest ought to be done by virtue, discipline, prayer, conversion, and grace, the cigar does naturally. Fame, politics, running for office, international affairs, reading the newspaper, one's investments, one's career, one's ambition, the desire for wealth, the thirst for travel, the disappointments of love. All these things seem to be overcome through a cigar smoked in the quiet of one's home.

Thomas Hood

The Cigar*
by Thomas Hood

Some sigh for this and that,
My wishes don't go far;
The world may wag at will,
So I have my cigar.

Some fret themselves to death
With Whig and Tory jar;
I don't care which is in,
So I have my cigar.

Sir John requests my vote,
And so does Mr. Marr;
I don't care how it goes,
So I have my cigar.

Some want a German row,
Some wish a Russian war;
I care not. I'm at peace
So I have my cigar.

I never see the 'Post,'
I seldom read the 'Star;'
The 'Globe' I scarcely heed,
So I have my cigar.

They tell me that Bank Stock
Is sunk much under par,
It's all the same to me,
So I have my cigar.

Honors have come to men
My juniors at the Bar;
No matter - I can wait,
So I have my cigar.

Ambition frets me not;
A cab or glory's car
Are just the same to me,
So I have my cigar.

I worship no vain gods,
But serve the household Lar;**
I'm sure to be at home,
So I have my cigar.

I do not seek for fame,
A general with a scar;
A private let me be,
So I have my cigar.

To have my choice among
The toys of life's bazaar,
The deuce may take them all
So I have my cigar.

Some minds are often tost
By tempests like a tar;
I always seem in port,
So I have my cigar.

The ardent flame of love,
My bosom cannot char,
I smoke but do not burn,
So I have my cigar.

They tell me Nancy Low
Has married Mr. R.;
The jilt! but I can live,
So I have my cigar.

*From The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood, (London: Frederick Warne & Co, 1890),498-99.
*Lar is the singular form of Lares, the domestic deities of ancient Rome.

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