Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > England
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV.  1876–79.
 
Pontefract (Pomfret)
King Richard in the Dungeon of Pomfret Castle
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 

I HAVE been studying how to compare
This prison, where I live, unto the world;
And, for because the world is populous,
And here is not a creature but myself,
I cannot do it.—Yet I ’ll hammer it out.        5
My brain I ’ll prove the female to my soul;
My soul, the father: and these two beget
A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
And these same thoughts people this little world
In humors, like the people of this world,        10
For no thought is contented. The better sort—
As thoughts of things divine—are intermixed
With scruples, and do set the Word itself
Against the Word: as thus, Come, little ones; then again,
It is as hard to come, as for a camel        15
To thread the postern of a small needle’s eye.
Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot
Unlikely wonders: how these vain weak nails
May tear a passage through the flinty ribs
Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls;        20
And, for they cannot, die in their own pride.
Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
That they are not the first of Fortune’s slaves,
Nor shall not be the last; like silly beggars,
Who, sitting in the stocks, refuge their shame        25
That many have, and others must sit there:
And in this thought they find a kind of ease,
Bearing their own misfortune on the back
Of such as have before endured the like.
Thus play I, in one person, many people,        30
And none contented. Sometimes am I king;
Then treason makes me wish myself a beggar,
And so I am. Then crushing penury
Persuades me I was better when a king;
Then am I kinged again: and, by and by,        35
Think that I am unkinged by Bolingbroke,
And straight am nothing.—But, whate’er I am,
Nor I, nor any man that but man is,
With nothing shall be pleased till he be eased
With being nothing.—Music do I hear?        40
Ha, ha! keep time.—How sour sweet music is,
When time is broke, and no proportion kept!
So is it in the music of men’s lives.
And here have I the daintiness of ear
To check time broke in a disordered string;        45
But, for the concord of my state and time,
Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
I wasted time, and now doth Time waste me;
For now hath Time made me his numbering clock.
My thoughts are minutes; and, with sighs, they jar        50
Their motions unto mine eyes, the outward watch,
Whereto my finger, like a dial’s point,
Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears.
Now, sir, the sound that tells what hour it is
Are clamorous groans, that strike upon my heart,        55
Which is the bell: so sighs, and tears, and groans,
Show minutes, times, and hours; but my time
Runs posting on in Bolingbroke’s proud joy,
While I stand fooling here, his Jack-o’-the-clock.
This music mads me, let it sound no more;        60
For, though it have holp madmen to their wits,
In me, it seems, it will make wise men mad.
Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me!
For ’t is a sign of love; and love to Richard
Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.        65
 
 
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