Fear oftentimes restraineth words,

But makes not thoughts to cease;
And he speaks best that hath the skill

When for to hold his peace.

Our wealth leaves us at death,

Our kinsmen at the grave;
But virtues of the mind unto

The heavens with us we have;
Wherefore, for virtue's sake,

I can be well content
The sweetest time of all my life
To deem in thinking spent.

Thomas Vaux (1510–1556]


From "Farewell to Folly"

SWEET are the thoughts that savor of content,

The quiet mind is richer than a crown, Sweet are the nights in careless slumber spent,

The poor estate scorns Fortune's angry frown: Such sweet content, such minds, such sleep, such bliss, Beggars enjoy, when princes oft do miss.

The homely house that harbors quiet rest,

The cottage that affords no pride nor care,
The mean that 'grees with country music best,

The sweet consort of mirth and modest fare,
Obscurèd life sets down a type of bliss:
A mind content both crown and kingdom is.

Robert Greene (15607-1592)


MARTIAL, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:
The riches left, not got with pain;
The fruitful ground; the quiet mind;

The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule, no governance;
Without disease, the healthful life;
The household of continuance;
The mean diet, no delicate fare;
True wisdom joined with simpleness;
The night discharged of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress;
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Contented with thine own estate,
Nor wish for death, nor fear his might.

After Martial, by Henry Howard (1517?-1547]


THERE is a jewel which no Indian mines
Can buy, no chemic art can counterfeit;
It makes men rich in greatest poverty;
Makes water wine, turns wooden cups to gold,
The homely whistle to sweet music's strain:

Seldom it comes, to few from heaven sent,
That much in little, all in naught—Content.



I WEIGH not fortune's frown or smile;

I joy not much in earthly joys;
I seek not state, I reck not style;

I am not fond of fancy's toys:
I rest so pleased with what I have,
I wish no more, no more I crave.

I quake not at the thunder's crack;

I tremble not at news of war;
I swound not at the news of wrack;

I shrink not at a blazing star;
I fear not loss, I hope not gain,
I envy none, I none disdain.

I see ambition never pleased;

I see some Tantals starved in store;
I see gold's dropsy seldom eased;
I see even Midas


I neither want nor yet abound, -
Enough's a feast, content is crowned.


I feign not friendship where I hate;

I fawn not on the great (in show);
I prize, I praise a mean estate, -

Neither too lofty nor too low:
This, this is ail my choice, my cheer,-
A mind content, a conscience clear.

Joshua Sylvester (1563-1618]


From “ Patient Grissell”

Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers?

O sweet content!
Art thou rich, yet is thy mind perplexed?

O punishment!
Dost thou laugh to see how fools are vexèd
To add to golden numbers, golden numbers?
O sweet content! O sweet, O sweet content!

Work apace, apace, apace, apace;

Honest labor bears a lovely face;
Then hey nonny nonny, hey nonny nonny!

Canst drink the waters of the crispèd spring?

O sweet content!
Swimm'st thou in wealth, yet sink'st in thine own tears?

O punishment!
Then he that patiently want's burden bears
No burden bears, but is a king, a king!
O sweet content! O sweet, O sweet content!

Work apace, apace, apace, apace;

Honest labor bears a lovely face;
Then hey nonny nonny, hey nonny nonny!

Thomas Dekker (15707-1641?]


THERE dwelt a miller, hale and bold,

Beside the River Dee;
He wrought and sang from morn till night,

No lark more blithe than he;
And this the burden of his song

Forever used to be, “I envy no man, no, not I,

And no one envies me!”

“Thou’rt wrong, my friend!” said old King Hal,

“As wrong as wrong can be;
For could my heart be light as thine,

I'd gladly change with thee.
And tell me now what makes thee sing

With voice so loud and free,
While I am sad, though I'm the King,

Beside the River Dee?"

The miller smiled and doffed his cap:

“I earn my bread," quoth he; “I love my wife, I love my friend,

I love my children three.
I owe no one I cannot pay,

I thank the River Dee,
That turns the mill that grinds the corn

To feed my babes and me!”

“Good friend,” said Hal, and sighed the while,

“Farewell! and happy be;
But say no more, if thou’dst be true,

That no one envies thee.
Thy mealy cap is worth my crown;

Thy mill my kingdom's fee!
Such men as thou are England's boast,
Oh, miller of the Dee!

Charles Mackay (1814–1889) CORONATION

Ar the king's gate the subtle noon

Wove filmy yellow nets of sun; Into the drowsy snare too soon

The guards fell one by one.

Through the king's gate, unquestioned then,

A beggar went, and laughed, “This brings Me chance, at last, to see if men

Fare better, being kings.”

The king sat bowed beneath his crown,

Propping his face with listless hand; Watching the hour-glass sifting down

Too slow its shining sand.

“Poor man, what wouldst thou have of me?"

The beggar turned, and pitying, Replied, like one in dream, “Of thee,

Nothing. I want the king."

Uprose the king, and from his head

Shook off the crown, and threw it by. “O man, thou must have known,” he said,

“A greater king than I."

Through all the gates, unquestioned then,

Went king and beggar hand in hand. Whispered the king, “Shall I know when

Before his throne I stand?"

The beggar laughed. Free winds in haste

Were wiping from the king's hot brow The crimson lines the crown had traced.

“This is his presence now.”

At the king's gate, the crafty noon

Unwove its yellow nets of sun; Out of their sleep in terror soon

The guards waked one by one.

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