Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
 
Selfishness of the World
X. Arthur Warren
 
THIS 1 moov’d the prudent hermits to forsake
Country, acquaintance, parents, livings, land,
And in the wilderness a cell to make,
Where they, secur’d from injuries, might stand;
Though mosse, not downe, they us’d instead of bed,        5
And were with hips and hawes for dainties fed.
 
It’s ease enough, whereas may lodge Content;
It’s cheere enough, where Nature is suffis’d;
It’s right enough, whereas no wrong is meant;
It’s love enough, where no hate is devis’d:        10
Better to live alone in peace and rest,
Than ’mongst the multitude and be opprest.
 
Some unfrequented woods I seeke to find,
Some unknowne desarts journey I to see,
What Solitarines hath there assign’de        15
For such as her inhabitants shall be;
The earth I survey for the secret’st field,
To prove what entertainment it may yield.
 
The lynx, that is the clearest beast of sight,
Seemeth to shed a showre of christall teares;        20
The lyon, monarch for his matchlesse might,
Offers no force to load my life with feares;
Tygres are tame, bulls hurt me not with horne;
Woolves are like lambs, by them I am not torne.
 
My misadventures doe them all amaze,        25
Of mine afflictions they remaine in awe;
On my mishaps and my misfortunes gaze,
As though they so strange objects never saw:
So forlorne like I passe, so vile, so base,
That they relent to view my ruthfull case.        30
 
Thus I with eyes of farre discerning mind
Homeward convert a distort countenance,
In esperance acquaintance some to find,
Which might eye-witnes, unexpected chance,
Earth’s cormorant! heere, to thy scandall, see        35
The mercy which the mercilesse shew me.
 
Thou wilt not alter, but from have to hold,
From catch to keepe, from much to gather more,
From cottages to farmes, from lead to gold,
From competence into superfluous store:        40
Thy nature nought to such but envie yields,
As have a meadow greener than thy fields.
 
Might I heire to some usurer be found,
Whose gorged chests surfet with cramming gold;
Whose coffers with commodities abound,        45
So full that they no sterling more may hold;
Rome, rascals, then, make space and grace for me,
Whereas my worship shall in person be.
 
I would elect, flaunt, cut and swash for mates,
For choice companions, pleasure, mirth, delight,        50
For equals, gentles, honourables, states:
Ajax would not presume to proove my might,
Mylo would beare his bull, and let me goe,
Malitious Momus durst not be my foe;
 
Dignitie seem inferiour, and too bad        55
To be my shadowe; Science would attend,
Invention practize arts to make me glad,
Poetry my profession would commend,
Dutifull loyalty would humbly greete
My person, passing through the prospicuous streete.        60
 
But now, the worst are censured too good,
The miscreants, the abjects, the forlorne,
Adjudging baseness, borne of better blood,
A corner of my company doe scorn:
So odible an object am I thought,        65
Contemned, forsaken, loath’d, and set at nought.
 
Yet, miser! thus disparaged, I live;
Succour and meanes of maintenance to mee
The heate, the ayre, the woods and waters give,
Though fortunatelings hate it so to bee:        70
I borrow not,—doubting to be denide;
I steale not,—fearing my life should be tride.
 
Come, staff! and manage mine unhappy hand;
Scrip! guard my shoulders, burthen light to bare:
Three merry mates we ’gainst the sun will stand,        75
Solace to see, that comforts none can heare:
The lighter purse, the lesse the cares are found;
Hearke! while I whistle to the winds around.
 
Note 1. X. Arthur Warren.—He wrote “The Poor Man’s Passions; and Povertie’s Patience,” which was published in 1605. The author inscribes this work in a copy of verses, “to his kindest favourer Maister Robert Quarme;” probably an ancestor to his namesake the deputy-usher of the black rod in the House of Lords. The poem possesses considerable merit, though it is occasionally diminished by an affected introduction of words, either novel in themselves, or in their formation and application. [back]
 
 
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