Verse > Anthologies > Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. > Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry
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Ralph Waldo Emerson, comp. (1803–1882).  Parnassus: An Anthology of Poetry.  1880.
 
My Mind to me a Kingdom is
By William Byrd (1540?–1623)
 
MY mind to me a kingdom is;
  Such perfect joy therein I find
As far exceeds all earthly blisse
  That God or Nature hath assigned;
Though much I want that most would have,        5
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
 
Content I live; this is my stay—
  I seek no more than may suffice.
I press to bear no haughty sway;
  Look, what I lack my mind supplies.        10
Lo! thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.
 
I see how plentie surfeits oft,
  And hasty climbers soonest fall;
I see that such as sit aloft        15
  Mishap doth threaten most of all.
These get with toil, and keep with fear;
Such cares my mind could never bear.
 
No princely pomp nor wealthy store,
  No force to win the victory,        20
No wily wit to salve a sore,
  No shape to win a lover’s eye—
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why, my mind despiseth all.
 
Some have too much, yet still they crave;        25
  I little have, yet seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have;
  And I am rich with little store.
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I lend; they pine, I live.        30
 
I laugh not at another’s loss,
  I grudge not at another’s gaine;
No worldly wave my mind can toss;
  I brook that is another’s bane.
I feare no foe, nor fawn on friend;        35
I loathe not life, nor dread mine end.
 
I joy not in no earthly blisse;
  I weigh not Crœsus’ wealth a straw;
For care, I care not what it is;
  I fear not fortune’s fatal law;        40
My mind is such as may not move
For beauty bright, or force of love.
 
I wish but what I have at will;
  I wander not to seek for more;
I like the plain, I climb no hill;        45
  In greatest storms I sit on shore,
And laugh at them that toil in vain
To get what must be lost again.
 
I kisse not where I wish to kill;
  I feign not love where most I hate;        50
I break no sleep to win my will;
  I wait not at the mighty’s gate.
I scorn no poor, I fear no rich;
I feel no want, nor have too much.
 
The court nor cart I like nor loathe;        55
  Extremes are counted worst of all;
The golden mean betwixt them both
  Doth surest sit, and fears no fall;
This is my choyce; for why, I find
No wealth is like a quiet mind.        60
 
My wealth is health and perfect ease;
  My conscience clear my chief defence;
I never seek by bribes to please,
  Nor by desert to give offence.
Thus do I live, thus will I die;        65
Would all did so as well as I!
 
 
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