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 ;
|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.
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,
|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.
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 ;
|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.
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.
Jonson, Ben. The Works of Ben Jonson.
Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Co., 1853. 802-803.
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Created by Anniina Jokinen on September 4, 1999. Last updated on February 25, 2003.