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   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
227. Life
 
Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban (1561–1626)
 
 
THE WORLD’S a bubble and the life of Man
      Less than a span;
In his conception wretched, from the womb
      So to the tomb;
Curst from his cradle, and brought up to years        5
      With cares and fears.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
But limns on water, or but writes in dust.
 
Yet whilst with sorrow here we live opprest,
      What life is best?        10
Courts are but only superficial schools
      To dandle fools:
The rural parts are turn’d into a den
      Of savage men:
And where’s a city from foul vice so free,        15
But may be termed the worst of all the three?
 
Domestic cares afflict the husband’s bed,
      Or pains his head:
Those that live single, take it for a curse
      Or do things worse:        20
Some would have children: those that have them moan
      Or wish them gone:
What is it, then, to have, or have no wife,
But single thraldom or a double strife?
 
But our affections still at home to please        25
      Is a disease:
To cross the seas to any foreign soil,
      Peril and toil:
Wars with their noise affright us: when they cease,
      We are worse in peace;—        30
What then remains, but that we still should cry
For being born, or being born, to die?
 

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