Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
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Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
 
Lines from “Man’s May”
LXXXII. Peter Small
 
WHILST 1 one may labour, and take paine to live,
To idlenesse his minde let him not give;
Whilst one may have a thing, a thing that’s offer’d him,
Let him not leave the thing which time hath profer’d him:
Whether it be preferment, art, or glory,        5
Health, wealth, or pleasure, which are transitory.
The man that may, and will not, mend his state,
May not redresse it when it is too late.
Time is so swift that none can stay his course,—
Time is so strong that none can match his force:        10
Like to a thiefe, Tyme stealingly doth haste;
No man can call time backe when Time is past:
Time still describ’d in poets thus we finde,
Bushy before, but very bald behinde.
Even as the bee sucks hony out of thyme,        15
So may a man sucke sweetnesse out of Time.
Thyme is a sweete flower, Time a sweeter word,
And more commodity doth farre afford:
But even as the spider poyson sucketh
From that same herbe from whence the poore bee plucketh        20
The purest hony; so the slothfull wight,
That doth in nought but idlenesse delight,
Sucks sowre from sweet, sucks gall instead of hony:
Time cannot be recall’d for love or money.
Time is as swift as thought,—the swift’st-wing’d swallow        25
Cannot endure the flight of Time to follow:
Time is of the Ubiquitaries’ race,—
Time’s here, Time’s there, Time is in every place;
Time is divided in a three-fold summe,
Time past, Time present, and the Time to come.        30
Of present Time I presently intreat,
For therein lyes the summe of my conceit;
For Time (once past) can never be recal’d,
And therefore is ne feyned to be bald:
So Time to come, untill it present be,        35
Is neither May, nor opportunitie.
Prudence, Fore-care, and Diligence (they say,
With fit occasion,) are the flow’rs of May;
And these in winter doe as faire appeare
As in the summer-season of the yeere.        40
Carelesnesse, Sloth, Excuse, and Time’s delay,
With Ignorance, are tearm’d the weedes of May;
And these are neither sweet, or faire appeare,
Neither in spring, nor yet in all the yeere.
May may be fitly tearm’d (in my opinion)        45
The mistris of the moneths, and Nature’s minion,
May, Nature’s beauty, beautifying Nature,
May, Nature’s joy, delighting every creature.
All Nature’s impes she trimmes with colours gay,
And glories her rich beauty to display,        50
Decking the bosome of the earth with flowres,
Nose-gayes for ladies and their paramours.
In May the little buddes do sprout and spring,
In May the little birds do chirpe and sing;
In May the earth is clad in gaudy greene,        55
To entertaine and welcome sommer’s queene.
The winde doth whistle musicke to the leaves;
They dance for joy: thus ev’ry thing receives
Pleasure by Maye’s approach, and true content,
And doth rejoyce with generall consent,        60
And strive (in emulation) who shall be
Most richly clad in Nature’s livery;
To entertaine the parragon of Time,
Each thing is in his chiefest pomp and prime.
 
Note 1. LXXXII. Peter Small, “Batchelour in the Lawes,” wrote “Man’s May: or a Moneth’s Minde, wherein the Liberty of Man’s Minde is compared to the Moneth of May,” which was published in 1615. [back]
 
 
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