Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
 
Chidiock Tichborne’s Lament
By Chidiock Tichborne (1563–1586)
 
MY 1 prime of youth is but a frost of cares;
  My feast of joy is but a dish of pain;
My crop of corn is but a field of tares;
  And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is fled, and yet I saw no sun;        5
And now I live, and now my life is done!
 
The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung;
  The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves be green;
My youth is gone, and yet I am but young;
  I saw the world, and yet I was not seen;        10
My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun;
And now I live, and now my life is done!
 
I sought my death, and found it in my womb;
  I looked for life, and saw it was a shade;
I trod the earth, and knew it was my tomb;        15
  And now I die, and now I am but made;
The glass is full, and now my glass is run;
And now I live, and now my life is done!
 
Note 1. These verses are from Reliquiæ Wottonianæ, where they are said to have been written by “Chidiock Tichborne, being young and then in the Tower, the night before his execution.” Tichborne, a native of Southampton, was executed in 1586, for participating in the Babington’s conspiracy. “A beautiful letter,” says Mr. Quiller-Couch, “to his wife, written before his execution, is still preserved.” The poem was set to music in John Munday’s Songs and Psalms, 1594; in Richard Alison’s Hours Recreation, 1606; and Michael Este’s Madrigals of three, four, and five Parts, 1604. Dr. Hannah prints a reply to them in his Courtly Poets, p. 115, purporting to have been written by Babington, Tichborne’s fellow conspirator, beginning:
  Thy flower of youth is with a north wind blasted;
Thy feast of joy is an idea found, etc.
 
 
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