“Martial, the things that do attain”
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 nor strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease the healthy life;
The household of continuance;
The mean diet, no delicate fare;
Wisdom joined with simplicity;
The night dischargèd of all care,
Where wine may bear no sovereignty;
The chaste wife, wise, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night;
Contented with thine own estate,
Neither wish death nor fear his might.
How No Age is Content with its Own Estate,
And How the Age of Children is the Happiest, if they had Skill to Understand it.
Laid in my quiet bed, in study as I were,
I saw within my troubled head a heap of thoughts appear;
And every thought did show so lovely in mine eyes,
That now I sighed and then I smiled, as cause of thought doth rise.
I saw the little boy in thought, how oft that he
Did wish of God, to ‘scape the rod, a tall young man to be;
The young man eke that feels his bones with pains opprest,
How he would be a rich old man, to live and lie at rest;
The rich old man, that sees his end draw on so sore,
How he would be a boy again, to live so much the more.
Whereat full oft I smiled, to see how all these three,
From boy to man, from man to boy, would chap and change degree.
And, musing thus, I think the case is very strange,
That man from wealth, to live in woe, doth ever seek to change.
Thus thoughtful as I lay, I saw my withered skin,
How it doth show my dented chews, the flesh was worn so thin.
And eke my toothless chaps, the gates of my right way,
That opes and shuts as I do speak, do thus unto me say:
“Thy white and hoarish hairs, the messengers of age,
That show, like lines of true belief, that this life doth assuage,
Bids thee lay hand, and feel them hanging on thy chin,
The which do write two ages past, the third now coming in.
Hang up therefore the bit of thy young wanton time,
And thou that therein beaten art, the happiest life define.”
Whereat I sighed, and said: “Farewell, my wonted joy!
Truss up thy pack, and trudge from me to every little boy;
And tell them this from me; their time most happy is,
If, to their time, they reason had, to know the truth of this.”
Give Place, Ye Lovers
Give place, ye lovers, here before
That spent your boasts and brags in vain;
My lady’s beauty passeth more
The best of yours, I dare well sayen,
Than doth the sun the candle-light,
Or brightest day the darkest night.
And thereto hath a troth as just
As had Penelope the fair;
For what she saith, ye may it trust,
And it by writing sealed were:
And virtues hath she many mo’
Than I with pen have skill to show.
I could rehearse, if that I would,
The whole effect of Nature’s plaint,
When she had lost the perfect mould,
The like to whom she could not paint:
With wringing hands, how she did cry,
And what she said, I know it aye.
I know she swore with raging mind,
Her kingdom only set apart,
There was no loss by law of kind
That could have gone so near her heart;
And this was chiefly all her pain;
“She could not make the like again.”
Sith Nature thus gave her the praise,
To be the chiefest work she wrought,
In faith, methink, some bettert ways
On your behalf might well be sought,
Than to compare, as ye have done,
To match the candle with the sun.