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From: Poor Richard’s Almanack

May 30, 2016

From Poor Richard’s Almanacks

My Love and I for Kisses play’d,
She would keep stakes, I was content,
But when I won she would be paid;
This made me ask her what she meant:
Quoth she, since you are in this wrangling vein,
Here take your Kisses, give me mine again.

–Benjamin Franklin 1733

COMMENTARY: Benjamin Franklin is so well remembered as an inventor, essayist, and statesman, it’s almost forgotten that he wrote his yearly Poor Richard’s Almanacks almost entirely in verse. Regarding his early poetic dabblings Franklin says in his autobiography: “I now took a fancy to poetry, and made some little pieces…My father discouraged me by ridiculing my performances, and telling me verse-makers were generally beggars. So I escaped being a poet, most probably a very bad one.” The description is colored with Franklin’s typical playfulness, and the fact that the Franklin’s autobiography was published well after the almanac—i.e. after Franklin’s jingles were well known—adds to the irony.

This love lyric begins the March section of the 1733 almanac, and harkens to Catallus’s “Lesbia let us live and love” ode to uncountable kisses. It’s a simple enough song—witty and frolicky in the style that would make Poor Richard’s so enduring. I like the lengthening of lines in the last couplet.

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