Verse > Anthologies > Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. > Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th c.
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Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. (1886–1960). Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th C.  1921.
 
Ignoto
 
126. [Valediction to Life]
 
FAREWEL ye guilded follies, pleasing troubles, 
Farewel ye honour'd rags, ye glorious bubbles; 
Fame 's but a hollow echo, gold pure clay, 
Honour the darling but of one short day. 
Beauty (th'eyes idol) but a damasked skin,         5
State but a golden prison, to keepe in 
And torture free-born minds; imbroidered trains 
Meerly but Pageants, proudly swelling vains, 
And blood ally'd to greatness, is a loane 
Inherited, not purchased, not our own.  10
  Fame, honor, beauty, state, train, blood and birth, 
  Are but the fading blossomes of the earth. 
  
I would be great, but that the Sun doth still 
Level his rayes against the rising hill: 
I would be high, but see the proudest Oak  15
Most subject to the rending Thunder-stroke; 
I would be rich, but see men too unkind 
Dig in the bowels of the richest mine; 
I would be wise, but that I often see 
The Fox suspected whilst the Ass goes free;  20
I would be fair, but see the fair and proud 
Like the bright sun, oft setting in a cloud; 
I would be poor, but know the humble grass 
Still trampled on by each unworthy Asse: 
Rich, hated; wise, suspected; scorn'd, if poor;  25
Great, fear'd; fair, tempted; hight, stil envied more: 
  I have wish'd all, but now I wish for neither, 
  Great, high, rich, wise, nor fair, poor I'l be rather. 
  
Would the world now adopt me for her heir, 
Would beauties Queen entitle me the Fair,  30
Fame speak me fortune's Minion, could I vie 
Angels with India, with a speaking eye 
Command bare heads, bow'd knees, strike Justice dumb 
As wel as blind and lame, or give a tongue 
To stones, by Epitaphs, be called great Master  35
In the loose rhimes of every Poetaster; 
Could I be more then any man that lives, 
Great, fair, rich, wise all in Superlatives; 
Yet I more freely would these gifts resign 
Then ever fortune would have made them mine,  40
  And hold one minute of this holy leasure, 
  Beyond the riches of this empty pleasure. 
  
Welcom pure thoughts, welcom ye silent groves, 
These guests, these Courts, my soul most dearly loves, 
Now the wing'd people of the Skie shall sing  45
My cheerful Anthems to the gladsome Spring; 
A Pray'r book now shall be my looking-glasse, 
Wherein I will adore sweet vertues face. 
Here dwell no hateful looks, no Pallace cares, 
No broken vows dwell here, nor pale-faced fears,  50
Then here I'l sit and sigh my hot loves folly, 
And learn t'affect an holy melancholy. 
  And if contentment be a stranger, then 
  I'l nere look for it, but in heaven again. 
 
 
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