Table of Contents:
O men amaazd with dread of death, why feare yee Limbo Styx,
And other names of vanitie, which are but Poets tricks?
And perrills of another world, all false surmysed geere?
For whether fyre or length of tyme consume the bodyes heere,
Yee well may thinke that further harmes they cannot suffer more.
For soules are free from death. Howbee't, they leaving evermore
Theyr former dwellings, are receyvd and live ageine in new.
For I myself (ryght well in mynd I beare it to be trew)
Was in the tyme of Trojan warre Euphorbus, Panthewes sonne,
Quyght through whoose hart the deathfull speare of Menelay did ronne.
I late ago in Junos Church at Argos did behold
And knew the target which I in my left hand there did hold.
Al things doo chaunge. But nothing sure dooth perrish. This same spright
Dooth fleete, and fisking heere and there dooth swiftly take his flyght
From one place to another place, and entreth every wyght,
Removing out of man to beast, and out of beast to man.
But yit it never perrisheth nor never perrish can.
And even as supple wax with ease receyveth fygures straunge,
And keepes not ay one shape, ne bydes assured ay from chaunge,
And yit continueth alwayes wax in substaunce: so I say
The soule is ay the selfsame thing it was and yit astray
It fleeteth into sundry shapes. Therfore lest Godlynesse
Bee vanquisht by outragious lust of belly beastlynesse,
Forbeare (I speake by prophesie) your kinsfolkes ghostes to chace
By slaughter: neyther nourish blood with blood in any cace.
And sith on open sea the wynds doo blow my sayles apace,
In all the world there is not that that standeth at a stay.
Things eb and flow: and every shape is made to passe away.
The tyme itself continually is fleeting like a brooke.
For neyther brooke nor lyghtsomme tyme can tarrye still. But looke
As every wave dryves other foorth, and that that commes behynd
Bothe thrusteth and is thrust itself: even so the tymes by kynd
Doo fly and follow bothe at once, and evermore renew.
For that that was before is left, and streyght there dooth ensew
Anoother that was never erst. Eche twincling of an eye
Dooth chaunge. Wee see that after day commes nyght and darks the sky,
And after nyght the lyghtsum Sunne succeedeth orderly.
Like colour is not in the heaven when all things weery lye
At midnyght sound asleepe, as when the daystarre cleere and bryght
Commes foorth uppon his milkwhyght steede. Ageine in other plyght
The Morning, Pallants daughter fayre, the messenger of lyght
Delivereth into Phebus handes the world of cleerer hew.
The circle also of the sonne what tyme it ryseth new
And when it setteth, looketh red, but when it mounts most hye,
Then lookes it whyght, bycause that there the nature of the skye
Is better, and from filthye drosse of earth dooth further flye.
The image also of the Moone that shyneth ay by nyght,
Is never of one quantitie. For that that giveth lyght
Today, is lesser than the next that followeth, till the full.
And then contrarywyse eche day her lyght away dooth pull.
What? Seest thou not how that the yeere as representing playne
The age of man, departes itself in quarters fowre? First bayne
And tender in the spring it is, even like a sucking babe.
Then greene, and voyd of strength, and lush, and foggye, is the blade,
And cheeres the husbandman with hope. Then all things florish gay.
The earth with flowres of sundry hew then seemeth for to play,
And vertue small or none to herbes there dooth as yit belong.
The yeere from springtyde passing foorth to sommer, wexeth strong,
Becommeth lyke a lusty youth. For in our lyfe through out
There is no tyme more plentifull, more lusty, hote and stout.
Then followeth Harvest when the heate of youth growes sumwhat cold,
Rype, meeld, disposed meane betwixt a yoongman and an old,
And sumwhat sprent with grayish heare. Then ugly winter last
Like age steales on with trembling steppes, all bald, or overcast
With shirle thinne heare as whyght as snowe. Our bodies also ay
Doo alter still from tyme to tyme, and never stand at stay.
Wee shall not bee the same wee were today or yisterday.
The day hath beene wee were but seede and only hope of men,
And in our moothers womb wee had our dwelling place as then:
Dame Nature put to conning hand and suffred not that wee
Within our moothers streyned womb should ay distressed bee,
But brought us out to aire, and from our prison set us free.
The chyld newborne lyes voyd of strength. Within a season tho
He wexing fowerfooted lernes like savage beastes to go.
Then sumwhat foltring, and as yit not firme of foote, he standes
By getting sumwhat for to helpe his sinewes in his handes.
From that tyme growing strong and swift, he passeth foorth the space
Of youth: and also wearing out his middle age apace,
Through drooping ages steepye path he ronneth out his race.
This age dooth undermyne the strength of former yeares, and throwes
It downe. Which thing old Milo by example playnely showes.
For when he sawe those armes of his (which heeretofore had beene
As strong as ever Hercules in woorking deadly teene
Of biggest beastes) hang flapping downe, and nought but empty skin,
He wept. And Helen when shee saw her aged wrincles in
A glasse wept also: musing in herself what men had seene,
That by two noble princes sonnes shee twyce had ravisht beene.
Thou tyme the eater up of things, and age of spyghtfull teene,
Destroy all things. And when that long continuance hath them bit,
You leysurely by lingring death consume them every whit.
And theis that wee call Elements doo never stand at stay.
The enterchaunging course of them I will before yee lay.
Give heede therto. This endlesse world conteynes therin I say
Fowre substances of which all things are gendred. Of theis fower
The Earth and Water for theyr masse and weyght are sunken lower.
The other cowple Aire and Fyre, the purer of the twayne,
Mount up, and nought can keepe them downe. And though there doo remayne
A space betweene eche one of them: yit every thing is made
Of themsame fowre, and into them at length ageine doo fade.
The earth resolving leysurely dooth melt to water sheere.
The water fyned turnes to aire. The aire eeke purged cleere
From grossenesse, spyreth up aloft, and there becommeth fyre.
From thence in order contrary they backe ageine retyre.
Fyre thickening passeth into Aire, and Ayer wexing grosse,
Returnes to water: Water eeke congealing into drosse,
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.