Sir Francis Bacon
Emily Brontė
Robert Herrick
John Keats
Christopher Marlowe
Andrew Marvell
Edgar Allan Poe
Sir John Suckling
Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Francis Bacon

The Life of Man

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 the cradle, and brought up to years
With cares and fears.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
But limns on water, or but writes in dust.

Yet since with sorrow here we live opprest,
What life is best?
Courts are but only superficial schools
To dandle fools.
The rural parts are turned into a den
Of savage men.
And where's a city from all vice so free,
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.
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?

Our own affections still at home to please
Is a disease;
To cross the sea to any foreign soil,
Perils and toil.
Wars with their noise affright us; when they cease,
We're worse in peace.
What then remains but that we still should cry
Not to be born, or, being born, to die?

Emily Brontė


The Old Stoic

Riches I hold in light esteem
And Love I laugh to scorn
And Lust of Fame was but a dream
That vanished with the morn--
And if I pray--the only prayer
Is--'Leave the heart that now I bear
And give me liberty.'
Yes, as my swift days near their goal
'Tis all that I implore--
In life and death a chainless soul
With courage to endure!

Shall Earth no more inspire thee

Shall Earth no more inspire thee,
Thou lonely dreamer now?
Since passion may not fire thee
Shall Nature cease to bow?
Thy mind is ever moving
In regions dark to thee;
Recall its useless roving--
Come back and dwell with me.
I know my mountain breezes
Enchant and soothe the still--
I know my sunshine pleases
Despite thy wayward will.
When day with evening blending
Sinks from the summer sky,
I've seen thy spirit bending
In fond idolatry.
I've watched thee every hour--
I know my mighty sway--
I know my magic power
To drive thy griefs away.
Few hearts to mortals given
On earth so wildly pine,
Yet none would ask a Heaven
More like the Earth than mine.
Then let my winds caress thee--
Thy comrade let me be--
Since naught beside can bless thee,
Return and dwell with me.

If grief for grief can touch thee

If grief for grief can touch thee,
If answering woe for woe,
If any truth can melt thee
Come to me now!
I cannot be more lonely,
More drear I cannot be!
My worn heart beats so wildly
'Twill break for thee--
And when the world despises--
When Heaven repels my prayer--
Will not mine angel comfort?
Mine idol hear?
Yes, by the tears I'm poured,
By all my hours of pain
O I shall surely win thee,
Beloved, again!

The Night

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.
The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow,
And the storm is fast descending
And yet I cannot go.
Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.

Robert Herrick

The Poetry of Dress


A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:--
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction,--
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher--
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly,--
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat,--
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility,--
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.


Whenas in silk my Julia goes
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.
Next when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free;
O how that glittering taketh me!

Gather Ye Rose Buds*

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And the same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And, while ye may, go marry;
For, having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

(I don't know if it's ever been pointed out that Dylan's Times They Are A Changin' is definitly inspired by this.

John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

Christopher Marlowe

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of th purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

Andrew Marvell

To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shoudst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show you heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honor turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning glow,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Edgar Allan Poe

To One in Paradise

Thou wast all that to me, love,
For which my soul did pine-
A green isle in the sea, love,
A fountain and a shrine,
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
And all the flowers were mine.

Ah, dream too bright to last!
Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise
But to be overcast!
A voice from out the Future cries,
"On! on!"- but o'er the Past
(Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute, motionless, aghast!

For, alas! alas! me
The light of Life is o'er!
"No more- no more- no more-"
(Such language holds the solemn sea
To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree
Or the stricken eagle soar!

And all my days are trances,
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy grey eye glances,
And where thy footstep gleams-
And what ethereal dances,
By what eternal streams.

Sir John Suckling

Why so pale and wan fond lover?

Why so pale and wan fond lover?
Prithee why so pale?
Will, when looking well can't move her,
Looking ill prevail?
Prithee why so pale?

Why so dull and mute young sinner?
Prithee why so mute?
Will, when speaking well can't win her,
Saying nothing do't?
Prithee why so mute?

Quit, quit for shame, this will not move,
This cannot take her;
If of herself she will not love,
Nothing can make her;
The devil take her.


The Stone Man

A man in China has become a stone;
He sits and mourns, and at each muffled groan
Weeps melancholy tears, which then are found
congealed as pebbles scattered on the ground
(What misery the world would know, what pain,
If clouds should shed such adamantine rain!).
This man is Knowledge (sensible, devout;
If you should go to China seek him out),
But he has turned to stone from secret grief,
>From lack of zeal, indifference, unbelief.
The world is dark, and Knowledge is a light,
A sparkling jewel to lead you through the night -
Without it you would wander mystified,
Like Alexander lost without a guide;
But if you trust its light too much, despair
Will be the sequel of pedantic care,
And if you underestimate this jewel
Despair will mark you as a righteous fool
(Ignore or overvalue this bright stone,
And wretchedness will claim you for her own).
If you can step outside the stage we know,
The dark confusions of our life below,
And reach man's proper state you will possess
Wisdom at which the world can never guess.
The path brings sorrow and bewildered fear,
But venture on until the Way is clear,
And neither sleep by night or drink by day,
But give your life - completely - to the Way.

from "The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar (Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis, trans.,1984, original 1177)

Sir Thomas Wyatt

And wilt thou leave me thus?

And wilt thou leave me thus?
Say nay, say nay, for shame,
To save thee from the blame
Of all my grief and grame;
And wilt thou leave me thus!
Say nay, say nay!

And wilt thou leave me thus,
That hath lov'd thee so long
In wealth and woe among?
And is thy heart so strong
As for to leave me thus?
Say nay, say nay!

And wilt thou leave me thus,
That hath given thee my heart
Never for to depart,
Nother for pain nor smart;
And wilt thou leave me thus!
Say nay, say nay!

And wilt thou leave me thus,
And have no more pity
On him that loveth thee?
Alas! thy cruelty!
And wilt thou leave me thus!
Say nay, say nay!

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