A Maypole

A Maypole

From writer to cleric. With a political career. That is Jonathan Swift. His poem A Maypole is one of the many poems he wrote during his life.

About the poet

Jonathan SwiftJonathan Swift (1667-1745) born in Dublin as the second child of Jonathan Swift sr. and his wife Abigail Erick. His father died after being ruined as a businessman by the English Civil War. His mother moved to England, where she was born.

We remember Swift not only for the poetry he wrote. He was the author of classics such as Gulliver’s Travels and A Modest Proposal. He was considered as the most important prose satirist in the English Language. He also wrote poems.

The political career of Swift was rather unsuccessful. Unfortunately the Whigs (later became the Tories) were set aside by King George I. The political power of the Tories was reduced. After the defeat Swift moved back to Ireland. During the years between 1713 and 1742 he was the dean of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral  in Dublin.  He had to give up this work, due to his illness. It is believed that he suffered from Alzheimers disease. The fact that he suffered from deafness since his twenties, didn’t help much in this situation. He was considered to be mentally ill by many. On October 19 1745 Swift died in Dublin.


A Maypole

A Maypole

By Jonathan Swift



Deprived of root, and branch and rind,
Yet flowers I bear of every kind:
And such is my prolific power,
They bloom in less than half an hour;
Yet standers-by may plainly see
They get no nourishment from me.
My head with giddiness goes round,
And yet I firmly stand my ground:
All over naked I am seen,
And painted like an Indian queen.
No couple-beggar in the land
E’er joined such numbers hand in hand.
I joined them fairly with a ring;
Nor can our parson blame the thing.
And though no marriage words are spoke,
They part not till the ring is broke;
Yet hypocrite fanatics cry,
I’m but an idol raised on high;
And once a weaver in our town,
A damned Cromwellian, knocked me down.
I lay a prisoner twenty years,
And then the jovial cavaliers
To their old post restored all three –
I mean the church, the king, and me.


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