Ben Jonson
 
 
T  H  E     F  O  R  E  S  T .        
 

IV. TO THE WORLD.                  

A Farewell for a Gentlewoman, virtuous and noble.

False world, good-night ! since thou hast brought  
   That hour upon any 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 resolv'd to tread
Upon thy throat, and live exempt
   From all the nets that thou canst spread.

I know thy forms are studied arts,
   Thy subtle ways be narrow straits ;
  10
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 are 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.
  20

And, knowing this, should I yet stay,
   Like such as blow away their lives,
And never will redeem a day,
   Enamour'd 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,
  30
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 annoy'd ;
Little for me had reason done,
   If I could not thy gins avoid.

Yes, threaten, do.   Alas, I fear 
   As little, as I hope from thee : 
I know thou canst nor shew, nor bear 
   More hatred, than thou hast to me. 
  40

My tender, first, and simple years 
   Thou didst abuse, and then betray ; 
Since stirr'dst up jealousies and fears, 
   When all the causes were away. 

Then in a soil hast planted me, 
   Where breathe the basest of thy fools, 
Where envious arts professed be, 
   And pride and ignorance the schools :

Where nothing is examin'd, weigh'd, 
   But as 'tis rumour'd, so believed ; 
  50
Where every freedom is betray'd, 
   And every goodness tax'd 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 harbor a divided thought 
From all my kind ;  that for my sake,
   There should a miracle be wrought. 
  60

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.



 

Source:
Jonson, Ben.  The Works of Ben Jonson.
Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Co., 1853. 802-803.


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