Me so oft my fancy drew
Here and there, that I ne’er knew
Where to place desire before
So that range it might no more;
But as he that passeth by
Where, in all her jollity,
Flora’s riches in a row
Do in seemly order grow,
And a thousand flowers stand
Bending as to kiss his hand;
Out of which delightful store
One he may take and no more;
Long he pausing doubteth whether
Of those fair ones he should gather.
First the Primrose courts his eyes,
Then the Cowslip he espies;
Next the Pansy seems to woo him,
Then Carnations bow unto him;
Which whilst that enamour’d swain
From the stalk intends to strain,
(As half-fearing to be seen)
Prettily her leaves between
Peeps the Violet, pale to see
That her virtues slighted be;
Which so much his liking wins
That to seize her he begins.
Yet before he stoop’d so low
He his wanton eye did throw
On a stem that grew more high,
And the Rose did there espy.
Who, beside her previous scent,
To procure his eyes content
Did display her goodly breast,
Where he found at full exprest
All the good that Nature showers
On a thousand other flowers;
Wherewith he affected takes it,
His belovàd flower he makes it,
And without desire of more
Walks through all he saw before.
So I wand’ring but erewhile
Through the garden of this Isle,
Saw rich beauties, I confess,
And in number numberless:
Yea, so differing lovely too,
That I had a world to do
Ere I could set up my rest,
Where to choose and choose the best.
Thus I fondly fear’d, till Fate
(Which I must confess in that
Did a greater favour to me
Than the world can malice do me)
Show’d to me that matchless flower,
Subject for this song of our;
Whose perfection having eyed,
Reason instantly espied
That Desire, which ranged abroad,
There would find a period:
And no marvel if it might,
For it there hath all delight,
And in her hath nature placed
What each several fair one graced.
Let who list, for me, advance
The admiràd flowers of France,
Let who will praise and behold
The reservàd Marigold;
Let the sweet-breath’d Violet now
Unto whom she pleaseth bow;
And the fairest Lily spread
Where she will her golden head;
I have such a flower to wear
That for those I do not care.
Let the young and happy swains
Playing on the Britain plains
Court unblamed their shepherdesses,
And with their gold curlàd tresses
Toy uncensured, until I
Grudge at their prosperity.
Let all times, both present, past,
And the age that shall be last,
Vaunt the beauties they bring forth.
I have found in one such worth,
That content I neither care
What the best before me were;
Nor desire to live and see
Who shall fair hereafter be;
For I know the hand of Nature
Will not make a fairer creature.

Lordly gallants! tell me this
(Though my safe content you weigh not),
In your greatness, what one bliss
Have you gained, that I enjoy not?
You have honours, you have wealth;
I have peace, and I have health:
All the day I merry make,
And at night no care I take.

Bound to none my fortunes be,
This or that man's fall I fear not;
Him I love that loveth me,
For the rest a pin I care not.
You are sad when others chaff,
And grow merry as they laugh;
I that hate it, and am free,
Laugh and weep as pleaseth me.

You may boast of favours shown,
Where your service is applied:
But my pleasures are mine own,
And to no man's humour tied.
You oft flatter, sooth, and feign;
I such baseness do disdain;
And to none be slave I would,
Though my fetters might be gold.

By great titles, some believe,
Highest honours are attained;
And yet kings have power to give
To their fools, what these have gained.
Where they favour there they may
All their names of honour lay;
But I look not raised to be,
'Till mine own wing carry me.

Seek to raise your titles higher;
They are toys not worth my sorrow;
Those that we to-day admire,
Prove the age's scorn to-morrow.
Take your honours; let me find
Virtue in a free born mind--
This, the greatest kings that be
Cannot give, nor take from me.

Though I vainly do not vaunt
Large demesnes, to feed my pleasure;
I have favours where you want,
That would buy respect with treasure.
You have lands lie here and there,
But my wealth is everywhere;
And this addeth to my store--
Fortune cannot make me poor.

Say you purchase with your pelf
Some respect, where you importune;
Those may love me for myself,
That regard you for your fortune.
Rich or born of high degree,
Fools as well as you may be;
But that peace in which I live
No descent nor wealth can give.

If you boast that you may gain
The respect of high-born beauties;
Know I never wooed in vain,
Nor preferrèd scornèd duties.
She I love hath all delight,
Rosy-red with lily-white,
And whoe'er your mistress be,
Flesh and blood as good as she.

Note of me was never took,
For my woman-like perfections;
But so like a man I look,
It hath gained me best affections.
For my love as many showers
Have been wept as have for yours:
And yet none doth me condemn
For abuse, or scorning them.

Though of dainties you have store,
To delight a choicer palate,
Yet your taste is pleased no more
Than is mine in one poor sallet.
You to please your senses feed
But I eat good blood to breed;
And am most delighted then
When I spend it like a man.

Though you lord it over me,
You in vain thereof have braved;
For those lusts my servants be
Whereunto your minds are slaved.
To yourselves you wise appear,
But, alas! deceived you are;
You do foolish me esteem,
And are that which I do seem.

When your faults I open lay,
You are moved, and mad with vexing;
But you ne'er could do or say
Aught to drive me to perplexing.
Therefore, my despisèd power
Greater is, by far, than your.
And, whate'er you think of me,
In your minds you poorer be.

You are pleasèd, more or less,
As men well or ill report you;
And show discontentedness,
When the times forbear to court you.
That in which my pleasures be,
No man can divide from me;
And my care it adds not to,
Whatso others say or do.

Be not proud, because you view
You by thousands are attended;
For, alas! it is not you,
But your fortune that's befriended.
Where I show of love have got,
Such a danger fear I not:
Since they nought can seek of me,
But for love, beloved to be.

When your hearts have everything,
You are pleasantly disposed:
But I can both laugh and sing,
Though my foes have me enclosed.
Yea, when dangers me do hem,
I delight in scorning them,
More than you in your renown,
Or a king can in his crown.

You do bravely domineer,
Whilst the sun upon you shineth:
Yet, if any storm appear,
Basely, then, your mind declineth.
But, or shine, or rain, or blow,
I my resolutions know--
Living, dying, thrall, or free,
At one height my mind shall be.

When in thraldom I have lain,
Me not worth your thought you prized;
But your malice was in vain,
For your favours I despised.
And, howe'er you value me,
I with praise shall thought on be
When the world esteems you not
And your names shall be forgot.

In these thoughts my riches are;
Now, though poor or mean you deem me,
I am pleased, and do not care
How the times or you esteem me.
For those toys that make you gay
Are but play-games for a day:
And when nature craves her due,
I as brave shall be as you.

The Contented Man's Morice

False world, thy malice I espie
With what thou hast designed;
And therein with thee to comply,
Who likewise are combined:
But, do thy worst, I thee defie,
Thy mischiefs are confined.

From me, thou my estate hast torn,
By cheatings me beguiled:
Me thou hast also made thy scorn;
With troubles me turmoiled:
But to an heritage I'm born,
That never can be spoiled.

So wise I am not, to be mad,
Though great are my oppressions;
Nor so much fool as to be sad,
Though robb'd of my possessions:
For, cures for all sores may be had,
And grace for all transgressions.

These words in youth my motto were,
And mine in age I'll make them, -
I neither have, nor want, nor care;
When also first I spake them,
I thought things would be as they are,
And meekly therefore take them.

The riches I possess this day
Are no such goods of fortune
As kings can give or take away,
Or tyrants make uncertain:
For hid within myself are they
Behinde an unseen curtain.

Of my degree, but few or none
Were dayly so frequented;
But now I'm left of every one,
And therewith well contented:
For, when I am with God alone,
Much folly is prevented.

Then, why should I give way to grief?
Come, strike up pipe and tabor
He that affecteth God in chief,
And as himself his neighbour,
May still enjoy a happy life,
Although he lives by labor.

Not me alone have they made poor,
By whom I have been cheated;
But very many thousands more
Are of their hopes defeated;
Who little dreamed heretofore
Of being so ill treated.

Then, if my courage should be less
Than theirs who never prized
The resolutions I profess
(And almost idolized),
I well deserv'd in my distress
To be of all despised.

Our sad complaints, our sighs and tears,
Make meat nor clothing cheaper:
Vain are our earthly hopes and fears,
This life is but a vapor;
And therefore, in despight of cares,
I'll sing, and dance, and caper.

Though food nor raiment left me were,
I would of wants be dreadless;
For when I quickly should be there
Where bread and cloth are needless;
And in those blessings have my share,
Whereof most men are heedless.

I then should that attain unto
For which I now endeavour;
From my false lovers thither go,
Where friendship faileth never:
And, through a few short pangs of woe,
To joys that last for ever.

For service done, and love exprest,
(Though very few regard it)
My country owes me bread, at least;
But if I be debarr'd it,
Good conscience is a dayly feast
And sorrow never marr'd it.

My grand oppressors had a thought,
When riches they bereaved,
That then, my ruine had been wrought;
But, they are quite deceived:
For them the devil much mis-taught
When that weak snare they weaved.

If in those courses I had gone
Wherein they are employed,
Till such achievements had been won
As are by them enjoyed,
They might have wager'd ten to one
I should have been destroyed.

But proofs have now confirmed me
How much our vice offendeth,
And what small helps our virtues be
To that which God intendeth,
Till he himself shall make us free,
And our defects amendeth.

Not one is from corruption clear;
Men are depraved wholly,
Mere cruelties their mercies are
Their wisdom is but folly;
And, when most righteous they appear,
Then are they most unholy.

There is no trust in temp'ral things,
For they are all unsteady:
That no assurance from them springs,
Too well I find already;
And that ev'n parliaments and kings
Are frail, or false, or giddy.

All stands upon a tott'ring wheel,
Which never fixt abideth;
Both commonweals and kingdoms reel:
He that in them confideth,
(Or trusts their faith) shall mischiefs feel,
With which soe'er he sideth.

This wit I long ago was taught,
But then I would not heed it:
Experience must by fools be bought,
Else they'll not think they need it.
By this means was my ruin wrought;
Yet they are knaves who did it.

When to the ground deprest I was,
Our mushrooms and our bubbles,
Whom neither truth, nor wit, nor grace,
But wealth and pride ennobles
As cruel were as they are base,
And jeer'd me in my troubles.

And when their hate these had made known,
New mischiefs it begat me:
For ev'ry rascal durty clown
Presumed to amate me;
And all the curs about the town
Grinn'd, snarl'd, and barked at me.

Since, therefore, 'tis not in my power,
(Though oft I fore-discern them)
To shun the world's despights one hour,
Thus into mirth I'll turn them;
And neither grieve, nor pout, nor lowre,
But laugh, and sing, and scorn them.

This fit, at sev'nty years and two,
And thus to spend my hours,
The world's contempt inclines me to,
Whilst she my state devours;
If this be all that she can do,
A fig for all her powers.

Yet I and shee, my well agree,
Though we have much contented;
Upon as equal terms are we
As most who have offended:
For, I sleight her, and she sleights me,
And there's my quarel ended.

This only doth my mirth allay,
I am to some engaged,
Who sigh and weep, and suffer may,
Whilst thus I sing incaged:
But I've a God, and so have they
By whom that care's asswaged.

And he that gives us in these days
New lords, may give us new laws;
So that our present puppet-plays,
Our whimsies, brauls, and gew-gaws,
May turned be to songs of praise,
And holy hallelujahs.

From 'The Motto'

And first, that no man else may censure me
For vaunting what belongeth not to me,
Heare what I have not, for Tie not deny
To make confession of my poverty.
I have not of myselfe the powre or grace
To be, or not to be ; one minute-space
I have not strength another word to write,
Or tell you what I purpose to indite ;
Or thinke out halfe a thought, before my death,
But by the leave of him that gave me breath.
I have no native goodnes in my soul,
But I was over all corrupt and foul:
And till another cleans'd me I had nought
That was not stain'd within me : not a thought.
I have no propper merrit ; neither will,
Or to resolve, or act, but what is ill;
I have no meanes of safety, or content,
In ought which mine owne wisdom can invent.
Nor have I reason to be desperate tho,
Because for this a remedy I know.
I have no portion in the world like this,
That I may breathe that ayre which common is,
Nor have I seen within this spacious round
What I have worth my joy or sorrow found,
Except it hath for these that follow binn,
The love of my Redeemer, and my sinn.
I none of those great priviledges have
Which makes the minions of the time so brave;
I have no sumpteous pallaces, or bowers
That overtop my neighbours with their tow'rs;
I have no large demeanes or princely rents,
Like those heroes, nor their discontents;
I have no glories from mine auncesters,
For want of reall worth to bragg of theirs ;
Nor have I baseness in my pedigree:
For it is noble, though obscure it be.
I have no golde those honours to obtaine,
Which men might heretofore by vertue gaine;
Nor have I witt, if wealth were given me,
To thinke bought place, or title, honour'd me.
I (yet) have no beliefe that they are wise
Who for base ends can basely temporise :
Or that it will at length be ill for me,
That I liv'd poore to keepe my spirit free.
I have no causes in our pleading courts,
Nor start I at our Chancery reports;
No fearfull bill hath yet affrighted me,
No motion, order, judgement, or decree.
Nor have I forced beene to tedious journeys
Betwixt my counsellors and my attorneys.
I have no neede of these long-gowned warriers,
Who play at Westminster, unarm'd, at barriers
For gamster for those Common-pleas am I
Whose sport is marred by the Chancery.

* * * *

I have no complements, but what may show
That I doe manners and good breeding know;
For much I hate the forced apish tricks
Of these our home-disdaining politicks :
Who to the forraine guises are affected,
That English honesty is quite rejected
And in the stead thereof, they furnisht home
With shadowes of humanity doe come.
Oh! how judicious, in their owne esteeme,
And how compleatly travelled they seem,
If, in the place of reall kindnesses,
(Which nature could have taught them to expresse,)
They can, with gestures, lookes, and language sweet,
Fawne like a curtezan on all they meete ;
And vie in humble and kind speeches, when
They doe most proudly and most falsely meane.
On this too many falsely set their face,
Of courtship and of wisdome ; but 'tis base.
For servile unto me it doth appeare
When we descend to soothe and flatter, where
We want affection : yea, I hate it more
Than to be borne a slave, or to be poore.
I have no pleasure or delight in ought
That by dissembling must to passe be brought
If I dislike, I'll sooner tell them so,
Then hide my face beneath a friendly show
For he who to be just hath an intent,
Needs nor dissemble nor a lie invent.
I rather wish to faile with honestie,
Then to prevaile in ought by treacherie.
And with this minde I'll safer sleep, then all
Our Macavillian polititians shall.
I have no minde to flatter ; though I might
Be made some lord's companion, or a knight;
Nor shall my verse for me on begging goe,
Though I might starve unlesse it did doe so.

* * * *

I cannot (for my life) my pen compell,
Upon the praise of any man to dwell:
Unlesse I know (or thinke at least) his worth
To be the same which I have blazed forth.
Had I some honest suit, the gaine of which
Would make me noble, eminent, and rich,
And that to compasse it no meanes there were,
Unlesse I basely flatter'd some great peere;
Would with that suite my mine I might get,
If on those terms I would endeavour it.
I have not bin to their condition borne
Who are enclyned to respect, and scorne,
As men in their estates doe rise or fall:
Or rich or poore, I vertue love in all.
And where I find it not, I doe despise
To fawn on them ; how high soe're they rise ;
For where proud greatnesse without worth J see
Old Mordecay had not a stiffer knee.
I cannot give a plaudit (I protest)
When, as his lordship thinks, he breakes a jeast,
Unles it move me ; neither can I grin
When he a causeles laughter doth begin ;
I cannot sweare him truly honourable,
Because he once received me to his table,
i And talk't as if the Muses glad might be
That he vouchsafed such a grace to me :
I His slender worth I could not blazen so
By strange hyperboles, as some would do;
Or wonder at it, as if none had bin
His equall, since King William first came in.
Nor can I thinke true vertue ever car'd
To give or take (for praise) what I have heard.
For, if we pryze them well, what goodly grace
Have outward beauties, riches, titles, place,
Or such, that we the owners should commend,
When no true vertues doe on these attend ?
If beautiful he be, what honor's that ?
As fayre as he is many a beggar's brat.
If we his noble titles would extoll,
Those titles he may have, and be a fool.
If seats of justice he hath climbed (we say),
So tyrants and corrupt oppressors may.
If for a large estate his praise we tell,
A thousand villains may be praised as well.
If he his prince's good esteeme be in,
Why so hath many a bloudy traytor bin.
And if in these things he alone excell,
Let those that list upon his praises dwell.
Some other worth I find ere I have sense
Of any praise deserving excellence.
I have no friends that once affected were,
But to my heart they sit this day as neare
As when I most endear'd them (though they seeme
To fall from my opinion or esteeme :)
For pretious time in idle would be spent,
If I with all should alwayes complement ;
And till my love I may to purpose show,
I care not wher' they think I love or no.
For sure I am, if any find me chang'd,
Their greatnes,not their meannesse, me estranged.