Scottish Poetry Selection
- A Ballade Of Tobacco Smoke

This poem by Alexander Anderson was written long before concerns about tobacco and passive smoking. Instead, it is very positive about the "dreams seen through tobacco smoke".

The reference in the poem to "Alnaschar" is a character in The Arabian Nights whose dreams of wealth are shattered when he wakes up and knocks over and breaks the glassware he had hoped to sell in order to make his fortune!

   A Ballade Of Tobacco Smoke

What fretting loads we mortals bear
    Through life, whose fading rainbows mock
And Time, who drives a splendid pair
    Of steeds he never will unyoke,
Sweeps his lean fingers through our hair,
    He scarcely leaves a decent lock,
Yet chide him not, if still he spare
    The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.

We each must have our little care
    To add by contrast to our joke,
A laugh that spreads in vain its snare
    To catch the lips of solemn folk.
Well, let us walk through all the fair,
    And watch the crowds that sway and shock;
They follow what we see elsewhere--
    The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.

Dreamers of dreams in ships of air,
    Whose keels have never entered dock,
I wish you may have sounder ware
    Than did Alnaschar when he woke!
Statesmen, when strife is high, forswear
    For half an hour the wordy stroke,
I fain would hint of better fare--
    The dreams seen through tobacco smoke!


Prince, when you weary of the chair
    From which you govern realms and folk,
Your faithful bard would have you share
    The dreams seen through tobacco smoke.

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