Thursday, 14 July 2011

William Oldys and the fly

William Oldys was born in 1696. He was the illegitimate son of the Chancellor of Lincoln, a collector of rare books, a librarian, the author of The Life of Sir Walter Raleigh and a poet.

Today is William Oldys' 315th birthday. To mark the day in suitable fashion I shall share a celebratory cup.

Oldys passed away after only 64 summers. He would nevertheless have been well pleased to reach that number, for as he indicates below his expectancy was to wear away after a mere 60 summers . . .

On a Fly Drinking Out of his Cup

Busy, curious, thirsty fly!
Drink with me and drink as I:
Freely welcome to my cup,
Couldst thou sip and sip it up:
Make the most of life you may,
Life is short and wears away.

Both alike are mine and thine
Hastening quick to their decline:
Thine's a summer, mine's no more,
Though repeated to threescore.
Threescore summers, when they're gone,
Will appear as short as one!
William Oldys
14th July 1696 - 15th April 1761)
More about William Oldys HERE


  1. I like it! I have never heard of him although I come from Lincoln Gwilym. There's a touch of him, I suppose, in 'Lovliest of trees the cherry now.'

  2. Pat, Interesting background. Oldys grandfather Rev. Oldys was murdered by Parliamentarians, I've put a link for you to click to at the bottom of the post.


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