Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray
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   English Poetry I: From Chaucer to Gray.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
88. In Time of Pestilence
 
Thomas Nashe (1567–1601)
 
 
ADIEU, farewell earth’s bliss!
This world uncertain is:
Fond are life’s lustful joys,
Death proves them all but toys.
None from his darts can fly;        5
I am sick, I must die—
        Lord, have mercy on us!
 
Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Gold cannot buy you health;
Physic himself must fade;        10
All things to end are made;
The plague full swift goes by;
I am sick, I must die—
        Lord, have mercy on us!
 
Beauty is but a flower        15
Which wrinkles will devour;
Brightness falls from the air;
Queens have died young and fair;
Dust hath closed Helen’s eye;
I am sick, I must die—        20
        Lord, have mercy on us!
 
Strength stoops unto the grave,
Worms feed on Hector brave;
Swords may not fight with fate;
Earth still holds ope her gate;        25
Come, come! the bells do cry;
I am sick, I must die—
        Lord, have mercy on us!
 
Wit with his wantonness
Tasteth death’s bitterness;        30
Hell’s executioner
Hath no ears for to hear
What vain art can reply:
I am sick, I must die—
        Lord, have mercy on us!        35
 
Haste therefore each degree
To welcome destiny;
Heaven is our heritage,
Earth but a player’s stage.
Mount we unto the sky;        40
I am sick, I must die—
        Lord, have mercy on us!
 

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