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SIR HENRY Wotton. 1568-1639.
FAREWELL, ye gilded follies ! pleasing troubles ;
Farewell, ye honour'd rags, ye glorious bubbles ;
Fame's but a hollow echo, gold pure clay,
Honour the darling but of one short day,
Beauty, th’ eye's idol, but a damask'd skin,
State but a golden prison to live in
And torture free-born minds; embroider'd trains
Merely but pageants for proud swelling veins;
And blood, allied to greatness, is alone
Inherited, not purchased, nor our own.
Fame, honour, beauty, state, train, blood, and birth,
Are but the fading blossoms of the earth.
I would be great, but that the sun doth still
Level his rays against the rising hill;
I would be high,
but see the proudest oak
Most subject to the rending thunder-stroke;
I would be rich, but see men too unkind
Dig in the bowels of the richest mind;
I would be wise, but that I often see
The fox suspected while the ass goes free;
I would be fair, but see the fair and proud
Like the bright sun oft setting in a cloud ;
I would be poor, but know the humble grass
Still trampled on by each unworthy ass;
Rich, hated; wise, suspected; scorn'd if poor;
Great, fear'd; fair, tempted; high, still envied more.
I have wish'd all, but now I wish for neither
Great, high, rich, wise, nor fair-poor I'll be rather.
Would the world now adopt me for her heir,
Would beauty's queen entitle me
“the fair," Fame speak me fortune's minion, could I vie Angels* with India; with a speaking eye
* Angels, pieces of money. Vol. 1.-F
Command bare heads, bow'd knees, strike justice
dumb As well as blind and lame, or give a tongue To stones by epitaphs ; be call'd great master In the loose rhymes of every poetaster; Could I be more than any man that lives, Great, fair, rich, wise, all in superlatives : Yet I more freely would these gifts resign, Than ever fortune would have made them mine; And hold one minute of this holy leisure Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure. Welcome, pure thoughts! welcome, ye silent groves! These guests, these courts, my soul most dearly loves. Now the wing'd people of the sky shall sing My cheerful anthems to the gladsome spring; A prayer-book now shall be my looking-glass, In which I will adore sweet virtue's face; Here dwell no hateful looks, no palace cares, No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-faced fears : Then here I'll sit, and sigh my hot love's folly, And learn to affect a holy melancholy; And if Contentment be a stranger then, I'll ne'er look for it but in heav'n again.
I KNOW that all beneath the moon decays,
And what by mortals in this world is brought,
In Time's great periods shall return to naught,
That fairest states have fatal nights and days.
I know that all the Muse's heavenly lays,
With toil of spirit, which are so dearly bought,
As idle sounds, of few, or none are sought,
That there is nothing lighter than vain praise.
I know frail beauty like the purple flower,
To which one morn oft birth and death affords,
That love a jarring is of minds accords,
Where sense and will bring under Reason's power:
Know what I list, all this cannot me move,
But that, alas! I both must write and love.
If cross'd with all mishaps be my poor life,
If one short day I never spent in mirth,
If my sp'rit with itself holds lasting strife,
If sorrow's death is but new sorrow's birth;
If this vain world be but a mournful stage,
Where slave-born man plays to the laughing stars,
If youth be toss'd with love, with weakness age;
If knowledge serves to hold our thoughts in wars,
If time can close the hundred mouths of Fame,
And make what's long since past, like that's to be;
If virtue only be an idle name,
If being born I was but born to die;
Why seek I to prolong these loathsome days?
The fairest rose in shortest time decays.
SWEET soul, which in the April of thy years,
For to enrich the heaven mad'st poor this round,
And now with flaming rays of glory crown'd,
Most bless'd abides above the sphere of spheres;
If heavenly laws, alas ! have not thee bound
From looking to this globe that all upbears,
If truth and pity there above be found,
Oh deign to lend a look unto these tears,
Do not disdain (dear ghost) this sacrifice,
And though I raise not pillars to thy praise,
My off’rings take, let this for me suffice,
My heart a living pyramid I raise :
And whilst kings'tombs with laurels flourish green,
Thine shall with myrtles and these flow'rs be seen.
Look, as the flow'r which ling’ringly doth fade,
The morning's darling late, the summer's queen,
Spoild of that juice which kept it fresh and green,
As high as it did raise, bows low the head :
Right so the pleasures of my life being dead,
Or in their contraries but only seen,
With swister speed declines than erst it spread,
And (blasted) scarce now shows what it hath been.
Therefore as doth the pilgrims, whom the night
Haste darkly to imprison on his way,
Think on thy home (my soul) and think aright,
Of what's yet left thee of life's wasting day;
Thy sun posts westward, passed is thy morn,
And twice it is not given thee to be born.
If we no old historian's name
Authentic will admit,
But think all said of friendship’s fame,
But poetry or wit ;
Yet what's revered by minds so pure
Must be a bright idea sure.
But as our immortality
By inward sense we find,
Judging that if it could not be,
It would not be design'd:
So here how could such copies fall,
If there were no original ?
But if truth be in ancient song,
Or story we believe;
If the inspired and greater throng
Have scorned to deceive,
There have been hearts whose friendship gave
Them thoughts at ance both soft and grave.
Among that consecrated crew
Some more seraphic shade
Lend me a favourable clew,
Now mists my eyes invade.
Why, having fill'd the world with fame,
Left you so little of your flame ?
Why is't so difficult to see
Two bodies and one mind?
And why are those who else agree
So difficultly kind ?
Hath nature such fantastic art,
That she can vary every heart?
Why are the bands of friendship tied
With so remiss a knot,
That by the most it is defied,
And by the most forgot?
Why do we step with so light sense
From friendship to indifference?
If friendship sympathy impart,
Why this ill-shuffled game,
That heart can never meet with heart,
Or flame encounter flame?
What does this cruelty create ?
Is’t the intrigue of love or fate?
Had friendship ne'er been known to men
(The ghost at last confess'd),
The world had then a stranger been
To all that heav'n possess'd.
But could it all be here acquired,
Not heav'n itself would be desired.