The Life of Man
by Sir Francis Bacon

THE World's a bubble, and the Life of Man
             Less than a span :
In his conception wretched, from the womb
             So to the tomb ;
Curst from his cradle, and brought up to years
             With cares and fears.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
But limns on water, or but writes in dust.

Yet whilst with sorrow here we live opprest,
             What life is best ?
Courts are but only superficial schools
             To dandle fools :
The rural parts are turn'd into a den
             Of savage men :
And where's a city from foul vice so free,
But may be term'd the worst of all the three ?

Domestic cares afflict the husband's bed,
             Or pains his head :
Those that live single, take it for a curse,
             Or do things worse :
Some would have children : those that have them, moan
             Or wish them gone :
What is it, then, to have, or have no wife,
But single thraldom, or a double strife ?

Our own affections still at home to please
             Is a disease :
To cross the seas to any foreign soil,
             Peril and toil :
Wars with their noise affright us ;  when they cease,
             We are worse in peace :
What then remains, but that we still should cry
For being born, or, being born, to die ?

The Golden Treasury.
Francis Turner Palgrave, Ed.
New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company.  nd.  46-7.

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