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So long the fly doth dally with the flame,
Until his singed wings do force his fall;
So long the eye doth follow fancy's game,
Till love hath left the heart in heavy thrall.
Soon may the mind be cast in Cupid's jail,
But hard it is imprisoned thoughts to bail.
Oh! loathe that love whose final aim is lust,
Moth of the mind, eclipse of reason's light ;
The grave of grace, the mole of Nature's rust,
The wrack of wit, the wrong of every right;
In sum, an ill whose harms no tongue can tell ;
In which to live is death, to die is hell.
TO THE WORLD. A FAREWELL FOR A GENTLE-
WOMAN, VIRTUOUS AND NOBLE.
False world, good night, since thou hast brought
That hour upon my morn of age,
Henceforth I quit thee from my thought,
My part is ended on thy stage.
Do not once hope, that thou canst tempt
A spirit so resolved to tread
Upon thy throat, and live exempt
From all the nets that thou canst spread.
I know thy forms are studied arts,
Thy subtil ways be narrow straits;
Thy courtesy but sudden starts,
And what thou call'st thy gifts, are baits.
I know too, though thou strut and paint,
Yet art thou both shrunk up and old;
That only fools make thee a saint,
And all thy good is to be sold.
I know thou whole art but a shop
Of toys and trifles, traps and snares,
To take the weak, or make them stop:
Yet art thou falser than thy wares.
And, knowing this, should I yet stay,
Like such as blow away their lives,
And never will redeem a day,
Enamoured of their golden gyves?
Or having 'scaped, shall I return,
And thrust my neck into the noose,
From whence so lately I did burn
With all my powers myself to loose?
What bird or beast is known so dull,
That fled his cage, or broke his chain,
And tasting air and freedom, wull
Render his head in there again?
If these who have but sense, can shun
The engines that have them annoyed;
Little for me had reason done,
If I could not thy gins avoid.
Then in a soil hast planted me,
Where breathe the basest of thy fools;
Where envious arts professèd be,
And pride and ignorance the schools:
Where nothing is examined, weighed;
But as 'tis rumoured, so believed;
Where every freedom is betrayed,
And every goodness taxed or grieved.
But what we're born for, we must bear:
Our frail condition it is such,
That what to all may happen here,
If't chance to me, I must not grutch,
Else I my state should much mistake,
To harbour a divided thought
From all my kind: that for my sake
There should a miracle be wrought.
No! I do know that I was born
To age, misfortune, sickness, grief:
But I will bear these with that scorn,
As shall not need thy false relief.
Nor for my peace will I go far,
As wanderers do, that still do roam;
But make my strengths, such as they are,
Here in my bosom, and at home.
TO THE MEMORY OF BEN JONSON.
The Muses' fairest light in no dark time,
The wonder of a learnèd age; the line
Which none can pass; the most proportioned wit
To nature, the best judge of what was fit;
The deepest, plainest, highest, clearest pen;
The voice most echoed by consenting men;
The soul which answered best to all well said
By others, and which most requital made;
Tuned to the highest key of ancient Rome,
Returning all her music with his own;
In whom with nature study claimed a part,
And yet who to himself owed all his art:
Here lies Ben Jonson! every age will look
With sorrow here, with wonder on his book.
A CONTENTED MIND.
I weigh not fortune's frown or smile;
I joy not much in earthly joys;
I seek not state, I seek not style;
I am not fond of fancy's toys;
I rest so pleased with what I have,
I wish no more, no more I crave.
I quake not at the thunder's crack;
I tremble not at noise of war;
I swound not at the news of wrack;
I shrink not at a blazing star;
I fear not loss, I hope not gain,
I envy none, I none disdain.
I see ambition never pleased;
I see some Tantals starved in store;
I see gold's dropsy seldom eased;
I see e'en Midas gape for more:
I neither want, nor yet abound—
Enough's a feast, content is crowned.
I feign not friendship, where I hate;
I fawn not on the great in show;
I prize, I praise a mean estate-
Neither too lofty nor too low :
This, this is all my choice, my cheer-
A mind content, a conscience clear.
Poor Soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
Fooled by these rebel powers that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within, and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess.
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body's end?
Then, Soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:—
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men;
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.
The expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner than despisèd straight;
Past reason hunted; and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so ;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof—and proved, a very woe ;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream :
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.