October 27, 2013

"I smoke my pipe and worship God."

Whene'er I take my pipe and stuff it
And smoke to pass the time away,
My thoughts, as I sit and puff it,
Dwell on a picture sad and grey.
It teaches me that very like
Am I myself unto my pipe. 
Like me, this pipe so fragrant burning
Is made of naught but earth and clay;
To earth I too shall be returning,
It falls and, ere I'd think to say,
It breaks in two before my eyes,
In store for me a like fate lies. 
No stain the pipe's hue yet doth darken;
It remains white. Thus do I know
That when to death's call I must hearken
My body, too, all pale wilt grow.
To black beneath the sod 'twill turn,
Likewise, the pipe, if oft it burn.
Or when the pipe is fairly glowing,
Behold then instantaneously,
The smoke off into thin air going,
Till naught but ash is left to see.
Man's frame likewise will burn
And unto dust his body turn. 
How oft it happens when one's smoking:
The stopper's missing from its shelf,
And one goes with one's finger poking
Into the bowl and burns oneself.
If in the pipe such pain doth dwell,
How hot must be the pains of Hell. 
Thus o'er my pipe, in contemplation
Of such things, I can constantly
Indulge in fruitful meditation,
And so, puffing contentedly,
On land, on sea, at home, abroad,
I smoke my pipe and worship God.

~Johann Sebastian Bach
(as quoted in Drinking With Calvin and Luther!: A History of Alcohol in the Church by Jim West)