This poem is attributed to the musical genius, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750). Not many people are aware that Bach occasionally tried his hand at poetry. He was a devout Lutheran in his day and is widely considered the all-time greatest Christian composer in Western history. In one of his keyboard booklets, this little poem was discovered, dated 1725. It is interesting to note that at the end of each keyboard study, Back usually signed off with [i]To the Glory of God[/i] or [i]In Jesus' Name [/i]. In Japan, Bach is known as the 5th evangelist, as Buddhists have actually come to Christ while listening and performing the Saint Matthew Passion.
Whenever I take my pipe and stuff it,
and smoke to pass the time away,
My thoughts as I sit there to puff it
Dwell on a picture sad and gray:
It teaches me that very like
I myself am unto this pipe.
Like me, this pipe so fragrantly burning
Is made of nothing but earth and clay;
To earth I too shall soon be returning
And if it falls, ere, I should think to say
It will break in two before my eyes,
And awaiting for me, a like fate lies.
No stain the pipe's hue yet doth darken
It remains white, and thus I know:
That when death's call I must hearken
My body, too, all pale shall grow
But black beneath the sod I'll turn
Like as the pipe, if oft it burn.
Or, when the pipe is fairly glowing
Behold then, instantaneously
The smoke rises into thin air going
Till nothing but ash is left to see
Man's fame shall likewise burn
And into dust his body turn
How often it happens, when I am smoking
The stopper's missing from the shelf
And I go with my finger poking
Into the bowl and burn myself
If in the pipe such pain doth dwell,
How much more are the pains of hell!
Thus, over my pipe in contemplation
Of such things I can constantly
Indulge in fruitful meditation
And while doing so, puff contentedly
On land, at sea, at home or abroad,
I puff my pipe and worship God
Paul Frederick West