From "Amoretti "

SWEET is the rose, but grows upon a brier;
Sweet is the juniper, but sharp his bough;
Sweet is the eglantine, but pricketh near;
Sweet is the fir-bloom, but his branches rough;
Sweet is the cypress, but his rind is tough;

Sweet is the nut, but bitter is his pill;

Sweet is the broom-flower, but yet sour enough;

And sweet is moly, but his root is ill:
So every sweet with sour is tempered still.
That maketh it be coveted the more;

For easy things, that may be got at will,
Most sorts of men do set but little store.

Why then should I account of little pain,
That endless pleasure shall unto me gain?
Edmund Spenser [1552?-1599]


LIKE to the falling of a star,
Or as the flights of eagles are,
Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue,
Or silver drops of morning dew,
Or like a wind that chafes the flood,
Or bubbles which on water stood:
Even such is Man, whose borrowed light
Is straight called in and paid to night.
The wind blows out, the bubble dies,
The spring entombed in autumn lies;
The dew's dried up, the star is shot,
The flight is past,-and man forgot.

Henry King [1592-1669]


WHETHER men do laugh or weep,
Whether they do wake or sleep,
Whether they die young or old,
Whether they feel heat or cold;
There is underneath the sun
Nothing in true earnest done.

All our pride is but a jest,
None are worst and none are best,
Grief and joy, and hope and fear
Play their pageants everywhere:
Vain Opinion all doth sway,
And the world is but a play.

Powers above in clouds do sit,
Mocking our poor apish wit,
That so lamely with such state
Their high glory imitate.
No ill can be felt but pain,
And that happy men disdain.

Philip Rosseter [1575?-1623]


THE lopped tree in time may grow again,

Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower;
The sorriest wight may find release of pain,
The driest soil suck in some moistening shower;
Times go by turns, and chances change by course,
From foul to fair, from better hap to worse.

The sea of Fortune doth not ever flow,
She draws her favors to the lowest ebb;
Her tides have equal times to come and go,

Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web;

No joy so great but runneth to an end,

No hap so hard but may in fine amend.

Not always fall of leaf, nor ever spring,
No endless night, yet not eternal day;
The saddest birds a season find to sing,
The roughest storm a calm may soon allay:
Thus, with succeeding turns, God tempereth all,
That man may hope to rise. yet fear to fall.

A chance may win that by mischance was lost;
That net that holds no great, takes little fish;
In some things all, in all things none are crossed;
Few all they need, but none have all they wish.
Unmingled joys here to no man befall:

Who least, hath some; who most, hath never all.
Robert Southwell [1561?-1595]


SAY not, the struggle naught availeth,
The labor and the wounds are vain,
The enemy faints not, nor faileth,

And as things have been they remain.

If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase e'en now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.

For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.

And not by eastern windows only,

When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front, the sun climbs slow, how slowly,

But westward, look, the land is bright.
Arthur Hugh Clough [1819-1861]


A LARK in the mesh of the tangled vine,

A bee that drowns in the flower-cup's wine,

A fly in the sunshine,—such is man.

All things must end, as all began.

A little pain, a little pleasure,

A little heaping up of treasure;
Then no more gazing upon the sun.
All things must end that have begun.

Where is the time for hope or doubt?
A puff of the wind, and life is out;
A turn of the wheel, and rest is won.
All things must end that have begun.

Golden morning and purple night,
Life that fails with the failing light;
Death is the only deathless one.
All things must end that have begun.

Ending waits on the brief beginning;
Is the prize worth the stress of winning?
E'en in the dawning the day is done.
All things must end that have begun.

-Weary waiting and weary striving,
Glad outsetting and sad arriving;
What is it worth when the goal is won?
All things must end that have begun.

Speedily fades the morning glitter;
Love grows irksome and wine grows bitter.
Two are parted from what was one.
All things must end that have begun.

Toil and pain and the evening rest;
Joy is weary and sleep is best;
Fair and softly the day is done.
All things must end that have begun.

John Payne [fl. 1770-1800]


LET me enjoy the earth no less
Because the all-enacting Might
That fashioned forth its loveliness
Had other aims than my delight.

About my path there flits a Fair,
Who throws me not a word or sign;

I will find charm in her uncare,
And laud those lips not meant for mine.

From manuscripts of moving song
Inspired by scenes and souls unknown,
I'll pour out raptures that belong
To others, as they were my own.

Perhaps some day, toward Paradise
And all its blest-if such should be-
I shall lift glad, afar-off eyes,
Though it contain no place for me.

Thomas Hardy [1840


BECAUSE the rose must fade,
Shall I not love the rose?
Because the summer shade

Passes when winter blows,
Shall I not rest me there
In the cool air?

Because the sunset sky
Makes music in my soul,
Only to fail and die,

Shall I not take the whole

Of beauty that it gives
While yet it lives?

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