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E-text of "Pageant Verses" by Sir Thomas More, written in his youth, but only surviving in the 1557 Works.
This HTML etext was created in January 2007 by Anniina Jokinen of  Luminarium.

    Source text:
    More, Sir Thomas. "Pageant Verses."
    Memoirs of Sir Thomas More. Vol I.
    Arthur Cayley, Jr., Ed.
    London: Cadell and Davis, 1808. 11-15.

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Sir Thomas More

Pageant Verses

     Mr. Thomas More in his youth devised in his father's house in London, a goodly hanging of fine painted cloth with nine pageants, and verses over every of those pageants, which verses expressed and declared what the images in those pageants represented.  And also in those pageants were painted the things that the verses over them did in effect declare. Which verses here follow.


     In the first pageant was painted a boy playing at the top and scourge, and over this pageant was written as followeth.


I am called Childhood, in play is all my mind,
       To cast a quoit, a cokstele and a ball,
A top can I set and drive it in his kind;
       But would to God these hateful bookes all
       Were in a fire burnt to powder small;
Then might I lead my life always in play,
Which life God send me to mine ending day!


     In the second pageant was painted a goodly fresh young man, riding upon a goodly horse, having a hawk on his fist and a brace of greyhounds following him.  And under the horse's feet was painted the same boy that in the first pageant was playing at the top and scourge.  And over this second pageant the writing was this.


Manhood I am, therefore I me delight
       To hunt and hawk, to nourish-up and feed,
The greyhound to the course, the hawk to the flight,
       And to bestride a good and lusty steed—
       These things become a very man indeed.
Yet thinketh this boy his peevish game sweeter,
But what, no force, his reason is no better.


     In the third pageant was painted the goodly young man (in the second pageant) lying on the ground.  And upon him stood Lady Venus, goddess of love, and by her upon this man stood the little God Cupid.  And over this third pageant this was the writing that followeth.


Whoso na knoweth the strength, power, and might,
       Of Venus and me her little son Cupid;
Thou Manhood shalt a mirrour been aright,
       By us subdued for all thy great pride,
       My fiery dart pierceth thy tender side.
Now thou who erst dispisedst children small
Shall wax a child again and be my thrall.


     In the fourth pageant was painted an old sage father, sitting in a chair.  And lying under his feet was painted the image of Venus & Cupid that were in the third pageant.  And over this fourth pageant the scripture was this.


Old age am I, with lockes thin and hoar,
       Of our short life the last and best part,
Wise and discreet; the public weal therefore
       I help to rule, to my labour and smart.
       Therefore Cupid withdraw thy fiery dart.
Chargeable matters shall of love oppress
Thy childish game and idle business.


     In the fifth pageant was painted an image of Death, and under his feet lay the old man in the fourth pageant.  And, above this fifth pageant, this was the saying.


Though I be foul, ugly, lean, and mishape,
       Yet there is none in all this world wide,
That may my power withstand or escape;
       Therefore sage father, greatly magnified,
       Descend from your chair, set apart your pride,
Vouchsafe to lend, tho' it be to your pain,
To me, a fool, some of your wise brain.


     In the sixth pageant was painted Lady Fame, and under her feet was the picture of Death that was in the fifth pageant.  And over this sixth pageant the writing was as followeth.


Fame I am called, marvel you nothing,
       Though with tongues am compassed all round,
For in voice of people is my chief living,
       O cruel Death, thy power I confound.
       When thou a noble man hast brought to ground,
Maugre thy teeth, to live cause him shall I
Of people in perpetual memory.


     In the seventh pageant was painted the image of Time, and under his feet was lying the picture of Fame that was in the sixth pageant.  And this was the scripture over this seventh pageant.


I whom thou sees with horologe in hand,
       Am named Time, the lord of every hour,
I shall in space destroy both sea and land.
       O simple Fame, how darest thou man honour,
       Promising of his name an endless flower;
Who may in the world have a name eternal
When I shall in process destroy the world and all.


     In the eighth pageant was pictured the image of Lady Eternity, sitting in a chair, under a sumptuous cloth of state, crowned with an imperial crown.  And under her feet lay the picture of Time, that was in the seventh pageant, and above this eighth pageant was it written as followeth.


He needeth not to boast, I am Eternity,
       The very name signifieth well,
And mine empire infinite shall be.
       Thou, mortal Time, every man can tell,
Art nothing else but the mobility
Of sun and moon, changing in every degree;
When they shall leave their course, thou shalt be brought,
For all thy pride and boasting, into nought.


     In the ninth pageant was painted a poet sitting in a chair; and over this pageant were there written, these verses in Latin following.


Has fictas quemcunque juvat spectare figuras;
       Sed mira veros qui putat arte homines,
Ille potest veris animum sic pascere rebus,
       Ut pictis oculos pascit imaginibus.
Namque videbit uti fragilis bona lubrica mundi,
       Tam cito non veniunt, quam cito pretereunt.
Gaudia, laus et honor, celeri pede omma cedunt,
       Quid manet excepto semper amore Dei?
Ergo homines, levibus jam jam diffidite rebus,
       Nulla recessuro spes adhibenda bono.
Qui dabit æternam nobis pro munere vitam
       In permansuro ponite vota Deo.


F  I  N  I  S.   

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