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.
 
The Frailty of Life
XXXII. Rachel Speght
 
MAN 1 is in sacred writ compar’d to grasse,
Which flourishing to-day sends forth its flowre,
With’ring at night is cast into the fire;
Of short persistance, like an Aprill showre;
For who so now perceiues the sunne to shine,        5
His life is done before that his decline.
 
Our dayes consume and passe away like smoake;
Like thornes, soon kindled, soon extinct;
Or like a ship that swiftly slides the sea;
Vncertaine, fickle, irksome, and succinct,        10
Recite I all the fading types I can,
Yet none so momentarie as is man.
 
Vnto a shadow Iob doth life compare,
Which when the bodie moues doth vanish quite;
To vanitie, and likewise to a dreame,        15
Whereof we haue an hundred in one night.
Dauid’s resembling life vnto a span,
Doth shew the short continuance of man.
 
If happinesse consist in length of dayes,
An oke more happie than a man appeares;        20
So doth the elephant and sturdie stagge,
Which commonly doe liue two hundred yeares;
But mortall man, as Moses doth vnfould,
If he liue fourscore yeares is counted old.
 
When Xerxes with ten hundred thousand men        25
Attempted warre, his eyes did showre forth teares
To thinke, not one of those whome he imploy’d
Should be aliue within one hundred yeares;
For Adam’s heyres ingaged doe remaine
To pay what he receiued and lost againe.        30
 
The day wherein we first beheld the light
Begins our death, for life doth daily fade:
Our day of death begins our happie life;
We are in danger till our debt is paid.
Life is but lent, we owe it to the Lord;        35
When ’tis demanded it must be restor’d.
 
Note 1. XXXII. Rachel Speght.—He wrote “Mortalitie’s Memorandvm: with a Dreame prefixed, imaginarie in manner, real in matter. 4to. 1621.” [back]
 
 
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