Songs from The Beggar’s Opera: Air X-“Thomas, I Cannot"

By John Gay 1685–1732 John Gay

Act I, Scene viii, Air X—“Thomas, I Cannot,”

Polly.          I like a ship in storms was tossed,
                        Yet afraid to put into land,
                   For seized in the port the vessel’s lost
                        Whose treasure is contraband.
                           The waves are laid,
                           My duty’s paid;
                        O joy beyond expression!
                           Thus safe ashore
                           I ask no more;
                        My all is in my possession.

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Poet John Gay 1685–1732

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

 John  Gay

Biography

Poet and playwright John Gay was born in Devon to an aristocratic though impoverished family. Unable to afford university, Gay went to London to apprentice as a draper instead. While in London, he began writing journalism, including the pamphlet The Present State of Wit (1711), a survey of contemporary periodicals and authors. Rural Sports (1713) is generally considered his first important poem; the poem is ostensibly pastoral, . . .

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POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Augustan

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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