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.
 
Stanzas from “Queene Elizabeth’s Teares”
XXV. Christopher Lever
 
MEN 1 are iniurious that report of death
To be the highest of extremities;
When as we die what loose we else but breath?
And many numbers of our miseries,
When this life setts, as better doth arise:        5
  And when to death a holy cause is giuen,
  Death is the gate by which we enter heauen.
 
Within our life these sorrowes we containe,
Vncertaine daies, yet full of certaine griefe,
In number few, but infinite in paine;        10
O’re chargde with wants, but naked of reliefe,
In ruling it our euill partes are chiefe:
  And though our time be not cut short by death,
  Olde age will creepe to stop uncertaine breath.
 
Yet to the much affliction of the minde        15
This of the body is a scant compare,
Wherein so many and so much I find,
As would astonne my spirits to declare;
Triall can onely tell us what they are:
  For we whom custom hath with griefe acquainted        20
  By vs her sad proportion best is painted.
 
The griefe of mind is that intestine warre
That stirres sedition in the state of man;
Where when our passions once commanding are,
Our peacefull dayes are desperate, for than        25
The stirres more hote than when it first began;
  For heady passion’s like an vntamed beast,
  That riots most when we desire it least.
 
This violence exceedes his vertuous meane,
Like swelling tides that ouerrunne their shore,        30
Leauing the lawfull current of their streame,
And breake their bankes that bounded them before:
Yet griefe in his great violence is more:
  For if that reason bound not griefe with lawes,
  In our destruction griefe will be the cause.        35
 
Griefe should be borne with much indifference,
Not much regarded, yet regardlesse neuer;
Not much affected, yet we must haue sense
To feele our griefe and apprehend it euer;
Yet let the grieued ever thus indever        40
  To make his burthen easeful as hee may,
  And so his griefe with ease is borne away.
 
So much of griefe we onely doe sustaine,
As in our choice ourselues do apprehend;
Griefe may present it selfe, but not constraine        45
That we imbrace what it doth recommend.
Beare it but lightly then; for to that end
  Is patience giuen, by whose resolued might
  The heauiest loade of griefe is made but light.
 
This is the most of happinesse we haue,        50
That with our patience we support our cares;
Nor we our selues, but God this vertue gaue,
Which our vnworthie life right well declares;
To loose my life is for to loose my cares:
  Then what is death that I should feare to die?        55
  Death is the death of all my miserie.
 
What then is that which doth beget desire
In humane flesh to linger our long daies?
Is it because to honor men aspire,
Or for their name in beautie hath a praise?        60
Or is’t their greedy auarice them staies?
  Honour, beautie, nor desire of golde,
  Cannot the certaine of their death withhold.
 
Honour is nothing but a very name,
Often confer’d to men of little merite;        65
In euery place as common is as fame,
Commonly giuen to euery common spirite;
So little worth as anie one may weare it:
  Then why should that be thought of estimation
  That giues to base deseruings high creation?        70
 
The name and place of honour may be giuen,
As please the prince in fauour to dispose;
But true deriued honor is from heauen,
And often liues in meane estate with those
That to the courts of princes neuer goes.        75
  How vainly prowd are such as would get fame,
  Yet get no more of honor but the name!
*      *      *      *      *      *
He that from enuious eie and full resort
Liues priuate, with a little state content,
Little desires the honour of the court,        80
Where emulation stirres a discontent;
Men shoote at him that is most eminent,
  And whom the prince with hiest grace doth crown,
  Enuy brings many hands to pull him downe.
 
See here the glorie of mortallitie,        85
Which we with infinite of care pursue,
Painefull to get, but lost at libertie;
Fatall to many, fortunate to few,
Whereto so many miseries insue
  As fills our time with cares: then why should I        90
  For this respect of honour feare to die?
 
Note 1. XXV. Christopher Lever.—This author, of whom little is known, wrote “Queen Elizabeth’s Teares: or her resolute bearing the Christian Crosse inflicted on her by the persecuting hands of Steven Gardner, bishop of Winchester in the bloodie time of Queene Marie.” This poem, which consists of only thirty-one leaves, was published in 1607, and was dedicated “To the right honourable Lord Robert Erle of Salisburie, etc.” The poem is written in praise of Queen Elizabeth, as Defender of the true Faith against the errors of popery. Subsequently Lever issued another poem entitled the “Crucifixe,” which is chiefly descriptive of our Saviour’s sufferings and crucifixion. [back]
 
 
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