William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Restoration Verse. 1910. Lord Staffords Meditations in the Tower
G O 1 empty joys,
With all your noise,
And leave me here alone,
In sad, sweet silence to bemoan
The fickle worldly height 5
Whose danger none can see aright,
Whilst your false splendours dim the sight.
Go, and ensnare
With your trim ware
Some other worldly wight, 10
And cheat him with your flattering light;
Rain on his head a shower
Of honour, greatness, wealth, and power;
Then snatch it from him in an hour.
Fill his big mind 15
With gallant wind
Of insolent applause;
Let him not fear the curbing laws,
Nor king, nor peoples frown;
But dream of something like a crown, 20
Then, climbing upwards, tumble down.
Let him appear
In his bright sphere
Like Cynthia in her pride,
With starlike troops on every side; 25
For number and clear light
Such as may soon oerwhelm him quite,
And blend them both in one dead night.
Welcome, sad night,
Griefs sole delight, 30
Thy mourning best agrees
With honours funeral obsequies!
In Thetis lap he lies,
Mantled with soft securities,
Whose too much sunshine dims his eyes. 35
Was he too bold,
Who needs would hold
With curbing reins the Day,
And make Sols fiery steeds obey?
Therefore as rash was I 40
Who with Ambitions wings did fly
In Charless Wain 2 too loftily.
I fall, I fall!
Whom shall I call?
Alas! shall I be heard, 45
Who now is neither loved nor feared?
You, who have vowed the ground
To kiss, where my blest steps were found,
Come, catch me at my last rebound.
How each admires 50
Heavens twinkling fires,
Whilst from their glorious seat
Their influence gives light and heat;
But oh! how few there are,
Though danger from the act be far, 55
Will run to catch a falling star!
Now tis too late
Those lights, whose pallidness
Argues no inward guiltiness; 60
Their course one way is bent;
Which is the cause theres no dissent In Heavens High Court of Parliament.
These verses are from a Broad-sheet ballad, published in 1641, the year of Lord Straffords execution, and there entitled Note 1. Verses lately written by Thomas Earl of Strafford. [ back] Note 2. Charles wain: a popular name given to the group of seven stars in the constellation of Ursa Major. The play upon words, declares Professor Schelling, ( Seventeenth Century Lyrics) by which Charles (the Kings) wain (wagon) is likened to the chariot of the Sun, and Straffords ambitious wings to the audacious act of Phaeton in attempting to drive his fathers fiery steeds, is as apt as it is obvious. [ back]