WE falsely think it due unto our friends, |
That we should grieve for their untimely ends.
He that surveys the world with serious eyes,
And strips her from her gross and weak disguise,
Shall find 'tis injury to mourn their fate;
He only dies untimely who dies late.
For if 'twere told to children in the womb,
To what a stage of mischiefs they must come;
Could they foresee with how much toil and sweat
Men count that guilded nothing, being great;
What pains they take not to be what they seem,
Rating their bliss by others' false esteem,
And sacrificing their content, to be
Guilty of grave and serious vanity;
How each condition hath its proper thorns,
And what one man admits, another scorns;
How frequently their happiness they miss,
So far even from agreeing what it is,
That the same person we can hardly find,
Who is an hour together in one mind:
Sure they would beg a period of their breath,
And what we call their birth would count their death.
Mankind is mad; for none can live alone,
Because their joys stand by comparison:
And yet they quarrel at society,
And strive to kill they know not whom, nor why.
We all live by nistake, delight in dreams,
Lost to ourselves, and dwelling in extremes;
Rejecting what we have, though ne'er so good,
And prizing what we never understood.
Compar'd t' our boisterous inconstancy
Tempests are calm, and Discords harmony.
Hence we reverse the World, and yet do find
The God that made can hardly please our mind.
We live by chance and slip into events;
Have all of beasts except their innocence.
The soul, which no man's pow'r can reach, a thing
That makes each woman man, each man a King,
Doth so much lose, and from its height so fall,
That some contend to have no soul at all.
'Tis either not observ'd, or at the best
By Passion fought withal, by Sin deprest.
Freedom of Will (God's Image) is forgot;
And if we know it, we improve it not.
Our thoughts, though nothing can be more our own,
Are still unguided, very seldom known.
Time 'scapes our hands as water in a sieve,
We come to die ere we begin to live.
Truth, the most suitable and noble prize,
Food of our spirits, yet neglected lies.
Error and shadows are our choice, and we
Owe our perdition to our own decree.
If we search Truth, we make it more obscure,
And when it shines, cannot the light endure,
For most men now, who plod, and eat, and drink,
Have nothing less their bus'ness than to think.
And those few that inquire, how small a share
Of Truth they find, how dark their notions are!
That serious evenness that calms the breast,
And in a tempest can bestow a rest,
We either not attempt, or else decline,
By ev'ry trifle snatch'd from our design.
(Others he must in his deceits involve,
Who is not true unto his own resolve.)
We govern not ourselves, but loose the reins,
Counting our bondage to a thousand chains;
And with as many slaveries, content
As there are tyrants ready to torment,
We live upon a rack extended still
To one extreme or both, but always ill.
For since our fortune is not understood,
We suffer less from bad than from the good.
The sting is better dress'd and longer lasts,
As surfeits are more dangerous than fasts.
And to complete the misery to us,
We see extremes are still contiguous.
And as we run so fast from what we hate,
Like squibs on ropes, to know no middle state;
So outward storms strengthen'd by us, we find
Our Fortune as disordered as our mind.
But that's excus'd by this, it doth its part;
A treach'rous World befits a treach'rous heart.
All ill's our own, the outward storms we loath
Receive from us their birth, their sting, or both.
And that our Vanity be past a doubt,
'Tis one new vanity to find it out.
Happy are they to whom God gives a grave,
And from themselves as from His wrath doth save.
'Tis good not to be born; but if we must,
The next good is, soon to return to dust,
When th' uncag'd soul fled to Eternity
Shall rest, and live, and sing, and love, and see.
Here we but crawl and grovel, play and cry;
Are first our own, then others' enemy:
But there shall be defac'd both stain and score,
For Time, and Death, and Sin shall be no more.
Philips, Katherine. Poems, 1678.
in Minor Poets of the Caroline Period.
George Saintsbury, ed.
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905. 569-571.
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