Verse > Anthologies > J. C. Squire, ed. > A Book of Women’s Verse
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J. C. Squire, ed.  A Book of Women’s Verse.  1921.
 
A Revery
By Katherine Philips (‘Orinda’) (1631–1664)
 
DEATH is a leveller; beauty and kings,
And conquerours, and all those glorious things,
Are tumbled to their graves in one rude heap,
Like common dust as quiet and as cheap.
At greater changes who would wonder then,        5
Since Kingdoms have their fates as well as men?
They must fall sick and die; nothing can be
In this world certain, but uncertainty.
Since power and greatness are such slippery things,
Who’d pity cottages or envy Kings?        10
Now least of all, when, weary of deceit,
The world no longer flatters with the great.
Though such confusions here below we find,
As Providence were wanton with mankind:
Yet in this chaos some things do send forth        15
(Like jewels in the dark) a native worth.
He that derives his high nobility
Not from the mention of a pedigree;
Who scorns to boast the glories of his blood,
And thinks he can’t be great that is not good;        20
Who knows the world, and what we pleasure call,
Yet cannot sell one conscience for them all;
Who hates to hoard that gold with an excuse,
For which he can find out a nobler use;
Who dares not keep that life that he can spend,        25
To serve his God, his country and his friend;
Who flattery and falsehood doth so hate,
He would not buy ten lives at such a rate;
Whose soul, then diamonds more rich and clear,
Naked and open as his face doth wear,        30
Who dares be good alone in such a time,
When vertue’s held and punish’d as a crime;
Who thinks dark crooked plots a mean defence,
And is both safe and wise in innocence;
Who dares both fight and die, but dares not fear;        35
Whose only doubt is, if his cause be clear;
Whose courage and his justice equal worn,
Can dangers grapple, overcome and scorn,
Yet not insult upon a conquer’d foe,
But can forgive him and oblige him too;        40
Whose friendship is congenial with his soul,
Who where he gives a heart bestows it whole;
Whose other ties and titles here do end,
Or buried or completed in the friend;
Who ne’er resumes the soul he once did give,        45
While his friend’s honesty or honour live;
And if his friend’s content would cost the price,
Would count himself a happy sacrifice;
Who from the top of his prosperities
Can take a fall, and yet without surprize;        50
Who with the same august and even state
Can entertain the best and worst of fate;
Whose suffering ’s sweet, if honour once adorn it;
Who slights revenge, yet does not fear, but scorn it;
Whose happiness in ev’ry fortune lives,        55
For that no fortune either takes or gives;
Who no unhandsome ways can bribe his fate,
Nay, out of prison marches through the gate;
Who, losing all his titles and his pelf,
Nay, all the world, can never lose himself;        60
This person shines indeed, and he that can
Be vertuous is the great immortal man.
 
 
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