Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. I. Chaucer to Donne
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. I. Early Poetry: Chaucer to Donne
Extract from The Second Satire
By Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542)
MY Poins, I cannot frame my tongue to feign,
To cloak the truth for praise without desert
Of them that list all vices to retain.
I cannot honour them that set their part
With Venus, and Bacchus, all their life long,        5
Nor hold my peace of them although I smart.
I cannot crouch nor truckle to such a wrong,
To worship them like God on earth alone
That are as wolves these sely lambs among.
I cannot with my words complain and moan,        10
And suffer nought; nor smart without complaint,
Nor turn the word that from my mouth has gone.
I cannot speak and look like as a saint,
Use wiles for wit and make deceit a pleasure,
Call craft counsel, for lucre still to paint;        15
I cannot wrest the law to fill the coffer,
With innocent blood to feed myself fat
And do most hurt where that most help I offer.
I am not he that can allow the state
Of high Caesar, and damn Cato to die,        20
That by his death did scape out of the gate
From Caesar’s hands, if Livy doth not lie,
And would not live where Liberty was lost;
So did his heart the common wealth apply.
I am not he, such eloquence to boast        25
To make the crow in singing as the swan;
Nor call the lion of coward beasts the most,
That cannot take a mouse as the cat can:
And he that dieth for hunger of the gold,
Call him Alexander, and say that Pan        30
Passeth Apollo in music manifold,
Praise Sir Topas for a noble tale
And scorn the story that the Knight hath told;
Praise him for counsel that is drunk of ale;
Grin when he laughs, that beareth all the sway;        35
Frown when he frowns, and groan when he is pale,
On other’s lust to hang both night and day.
None of these points could ever frame in me;
My wit is nought, I cannot learn the way.

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