This poem was addressed to Mrs. Joel Barlow, the wife of the liberal American poet, Joel Barlow, who was living in Paris in 1796 when these verses were written. Accompanying the poem, Paine sent the following note: “To Mrs. Barlow, on her pleasantly telling the author that, after writing against the superstition of the Scripture religion, he was setting up a religion capable of more bigotry and enthusiasms, and more dangerous to its votaries-that of making a religion of Love.”
OR, IF YOU PLEASE, CONFESSION
O COULD we always live and love,
And always be sincere,
I would not wish for heaven above,
My heaven would be here.
Though many countries I have seen,
And more may chance to see,
My Little Corner of the World
Is half the world to me;
The other half, as you may guess,
And thus, between them, I possess
The whole world for my pains.
I’m then contented with my lot,
I can no happier be;
For neither world I’m sure has got
So rich a man as me.
Then send no fiery chariot down
To take me off from hence,
But leave me on my heavenly ground-
This prayer is common-sense.
Let others choose another plan,
I mean no fault to find;
The true theology of man
Is happiness of mind.