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.
 
To the World
XXIV. Benjamin Jonson
 
FALSE 1 world, good night; since thou hast brought
That houre upon my morne of age,
Henceforth I quit thee from my thought;
My part is ended on thy stage.
Doe not once hope that thou canst tempt        5
A spirit so resolv’d to tread
Upon thy throat and live exempt
From all the nets that thou can’st spread.
I know thy formes are studied arts,
Thy subtill wayes be narrow straits;        10
Thy curtesie but sudden starts,
And what thou call’st thy gifts are baits.
I know too, though thou strut, and paint,
Yet art thou both shrunke up, and old;
That onely fooles make thee a saint,        15
And all thy good is to be sold.
I know thou whole art but a shop
Of toyes, and trifles, traps and snares
To take the weak, or make them stop;
Yet art thou falser than thy wares.        20
And, knowing this, should I yet stay,
Like such as blow away their lives,
And never will redeeme a day,
Enamor’d of their golden gyves?
Or having scap’d shall I returne,        25
And thrust my neck into the noose,
From whence so lately I did burne
With all my powers my selfe to loose?
What bird or beast is knowne so dull,
That fled his cage, or broke his chaine,        30
And tasting aire and freedome, wull
Render his head in there againe!
If these who have but sense can shun
The engines that have them annoy’d,
Little for mee had reason done        35
If I could not thy ginnes avoid.
Yes, threaten, doe. Alas, I feare
As little as I hope from thee!
I know thou canst nor shew nor beare
More hatred than thou hast to mee.        40
My tender, first and simple yeares
Thou didst abuse, and then betray;
Since stird’st up jealousies and feares
When all the causes were away.
Then in a soile hast planted me        45
Where breathe the basest of thy fooles;
Where envious arts professed be,
And pride and ignorance the schooles;
Where nothing is examin’d, weigh’d,
But as ’tis rumor’d so beleev’d:        50
Where every freedome is betray’d,
And every goodnesse tax’d, or griev’d.
But what we are borne for wee must beare;
Our frail condition it is such
That what to all may happen here,        55
If’t chance to mee, I must not grutch.
Else I my state should much mistake
To harbour a divided thought
From all my kinde: that for my sake
There should a miracle be wrought.        60
No, I doe know that I was borne
To age, misfortune, sicknesse, griefe:
But I will beare these with that scorne
As shall not need thy false reliefe.
Nor for my peace will I goe farre,        65
As wand’rers doe, that still doe rome:
But make my strengths, such as they are,
Here in my bosome and at home.
 
Note 1. XXIV. Benjamin Jonson.—The principal works of this celebrated author are masques, comedies, tragedies, etc., but he wrote a few pieces of religious poetry, which are of a very high order. Jonson was born in 1574, and died in 1637. [back]
 
 
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