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If thou wilt bind me living to a course,
And I must slowly waste; I then of force
Stoop to thy great appointment, and obey
That will which naught avails me to gainsay.
For whilst in sorrow's maze I wander on,
I do but follow life's vocation.

Sure we were made to grieve: at our first birth,
With cries we took possession of the earth;
And though the lucky man reputed be
Fortune's adopted son, yet only he
Is nature's true-born child, who sums his years
(Like me) with no arithmetic but tears.

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What is the existence of man's life
But open war or slumbered strife,
Where sickness to his sense presents
The combat of the elements,
And never feels a perfect peace,
Till death's cold hand signs his release ?

It is a storm, where the hot blood
Outvies in rage the boiling flood :
And each loose passion of the mind
Is like a furious gust of wind,
Which beats his bark with many a wave,
Till he casts anchor in the grave.

It is a flower, which buds and grows,
And withers as the leaves disclose,
Whose spring and fall faint seasons keep,
Like fits of waking before sleep;
Then shrinks into that fatal mould,
Where its first being was enrolled.

It is a dream, whose seeming truth
Is moralized in age and youth ;
Where all the comforts he can share,
As wandering as his fancies are;

Till in a mist of dark decay
The dreamer vanished quite away.

It is a dial, which points out
The sunset as it moves about ;
And shadows out in lines of night,
The subtle stages of time's flight ;
Till all-obscuring earth hath laid
His body in perpetual shade.

It is a weary interlude, Which doth short joys, long woes include: The world the stage, the prologue tears, The acts vain hopes and varied fears ; The scene shuts up with loss of breath, And leaves no epilogue but death.

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Like to the falling of a star,
Or as the flight 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 dries up, the star is shot,
The flight is past—and man forgot.



Was born in London, in 1594, and after studying at both Oxford and Cambridge, had a curacy for some time at St. Albans, but embracing the Roman religion, gave up his profession, and after a short career as a schoolmaster, went to London, and became a writer of plays. There are thirty-five pieces in Dyce's edition of his Dramatic Works, recently published. He and his wife died, of grief, or exposure, the day after the great fire in London.


The glories of our birth and state

Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armor against fate,
Death lays his icy hands on kings :

Sceptre and crown

Must tumble down,
And, in the dust, be equal made

With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,

And plant fresh laurels where they kill :
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
They tame but one another still:

Early or late

They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murm’ring breath,
When they pale captives creep to death.

The garlands wither on your brow,

Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon Death's purple altar now
See where the victor victim bleeds;

All hands must come

To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just,
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.


This poet was born of a good family at Bentworth, near Alton, in 1588, and at sixteen was sent to Oxford, where, says Campbell, he had just begun to fall in love with the mysteries of logic, when his father called him home to hold the plough. He was even afraid of being put to some mechanical trade, when he contrived to escape to London, and with great simplicity had proposed to try his fortune at court. He was surprised to find that to succeed he must be a flatterer; and so, to show his independence, wrote his “ Abuses Whipt and Stript,” for which he was sent to prison, where he was visited by some of the finest geniuses of the time, and where he wrote his “Shepherd's Hunting.” After a while he was liberated, but he continued to be an active religious and political partisan ; and though King James, to whom he dedicated his “ Hymns and Songs of the Church,” made him a captain of horse, and quartermaster-general of his regiment, in the expedition against the Scots, under the Earl of Arundel, no sooner had the civil war broke out than he sold his estate to raise a troop for the Parliament. He was not very fortunate as a soldier, but Cromwell made him a major-general of the horse and foot for the county of Surrey. Upon the restoration, the estates he had acquired were taken from him, and he was cast into prison, where, after being treated with great severity for three years, he died in 1677. Mr. Wilmot has shown, in his “Lives of the Sacred Poets,” that there has been very little intelligent criticism of Wither, and that he was a much truer poet and more worthy man than it has been the custom to represent him. The reader of the following extracts will agree to a high estimate of his abilities.


First think, my soul, if I have foes
That take a pleasure in my care,
And to procure those outward woes
Have thus enwrapt me unaware ;

Thou shouldst by much more careful be,
Since greater foes lay wait for thee.

By my late hopes that now are crossed,
Consider those that firmer be,
And make the freedom I have lost,
A means that may remember thee.

Had Christ not thy Redeemer been,
What horrid state hadst thou been in !

Or when through me thou seest a man
Condemned unto a mortal death,
How sad he looks, how pale, how wan,
Drawing, with fear, his panting breath ;

Think if in that such grief thou see,
How sad will “ Go ye cursed” be!

These iron chains, these bolts of steel,
Which often poor offenders grind ;
The wants and cares which they do feel
May bring some greater things to mind.

For by their grief thou shalt do well
To think upon the pains of Hell.

Again, when he that feared to die
(Past hope) doth see his pardon brought,
Read but the joy that's in his eye,
And then convey it to thy thought;

Then think between thy heart and thee,
How glad will “ Come


blessed” be!

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When with a serious musing I behold
The grateful and obsequious marigold,
How duly, every morning she displays
Her open breast, when Titan spreads his rays;
How she observes him in his daily walk,
Still bending towards him her small slender stalk;
How when he down declines, she droops and mourns,
Bedewed, as 'twere with tears, till he returns ;

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