The Housekeeper – The Snail

Image from S for Snail

THE HOUSEKEEPER

Charles Lamb (1775-1831)
From the Latin of Vincent Bourne.

The frugal snail, with forecast of repose,
Carries his house with him where’er he goes;
Peeps out — and if there comes a shower of rain,
Retreats to his small domicile again,
Touch but a tip of him, a horn — ’tis well —
He curls up in his sanctuary shell,
He’s his own landlord, his own tenant; stay
Long as he will, he dreads no Quarter Day.
Himself he boards and lodges; both invites
And feasts himself; sleeps with himself o’nights.
He spares the upholsterer trouble to procure
Chattels; himself is his own furniture,
And his sole riches. Whereso’er he roam —
Knock when you will — he’s sure to be at home.

Mason City Globe Gazette (Mason City, Iowa) Oct 9, 1929

S for Snail

The Snail

Translation by William Cowper
From the Latin of Vincent Bourne.

To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall,
The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall,
As if he grew there, house and all
Together.

Within that house secure he hides,
When danger imminent betides
Of storm, or other harm besides
Of weather.

Give but his horns the slightest touch,
His self-collecting power is such,
He shrinks into his house, with much
Displeasure.

Where’er he dwells, he dwells alone,
Except himself has chattels none,
Well satisfied to be his own
Whole treasure.

Thus, hermit-like, his life he leads,
Nor partner of his banquet needs,
And if he meets one, only feeds
The faster.

Who seeks him must be worse than blind,
(He and his house are so combin’d)
If, finding it, he fails to find
Its master.

Poem from TasteArts

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