Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
III. Adversity
The Vanity of the World
Francis Quarles (1592–1644)
FALSE world, thou ly’st: thou canst not lend
          The least delight:
Thy favors cannot gain a friend,
          They are so slight:
Thy morning pleasures make an end        5
          To please at night:
Poor are the wants that thou supply’st,
And yet thou vaunt’st, and yet thou vy’st
With heaven: fond earth, thou boasts; false world, thou ly’st.
Thy babbling tongue tells golden tales        10
          Of endless treasure;
Thy bounty offers easy sales
          Of lasting pleasure;
Thou ask’st the conscience what she ails,
          And swear’st to ease her;        15
There ’s none can want where thou supply’st;
There ’s none can give where thou deny’st.
Alas! fond world, thou boasts; false world, thou ly’st.
What well-advisèd ear regards
          What earth can say?        20
Thy words are gold, but thy regards
          Are painted clay:
Thy cunning can but pack the cards,
          Thou canst not play:
Thy game at weakest, still thou vy’st;        25
If seen, and then revy’d, deny’st:
Thou art not what thou seem’st; false world, thou ly’st.
Thy tinsel bosom seems a mint
          Of new-coined treasure;
A paradise, that has no stint,        30
          No change, no measure;
A painted cask, but nothing in ’t,
          Nor wealth, nor pleasure:
Vain earth! that falsely thus comply’st
With man; vain man! that thou rely’st        35
On earth; vain man, thou dot’st; vain earth, thou ly’st.
What mean dull souls, in this high measure,
          To haberdash
In earth’s base wares, whose greatest treasure
          Is dross and trash?        40
The height of whose enchanting pleasure
          Is but a flash?
Are these the goods that thou supply’st
Us mortals with? Are these the high’st?
Can these bring cordial peace? false world, thou ly’st.        45

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