Verse > Sir Thomas Wyatt > Poetical Works
Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–42).  The Poetical Works.  1880.
Whether Liberty by loss of Life, or Life in Prison and thraldom be to be preferred
LIKE as the bird within the cage inclosed,
The door unsparred, her foe the hawk without,
’Twixt death and prison piteously oppressed,
Whether for to choose standeth in doubt;
Lo, so do I, which seek to bring about,        5
Which should be best by determination,
By loss of life liberty, or life by prison.
  O mischief by mischief to be redressed,
Where pain is best, there lieth but little pleasure,
By short death better to be delivered,        10
Than bide in painful life, thraldom, and dolour:
Small is the pleasure, where much pain we suffer,
Rather therefore to choose me thinketh wisdom,
By loss of life liberty, than life by prison.
  And yet methinks, although I live and suffer,        15
I do but wait a time and fortune’s chance;
Oft many things do happen in one hour;
That which oppress’d me now may me advance.
In time is trust, which by death’s grievance
Is wholly lost. Then were it not reason        20
By death to choose liberty, and not life by prison.
  But death were deliverance, where life lengths pain,
Of these two ills let see now choose the best,
This bird to deliver that here doth plain:
What say, ye lovers? which shall be the best?        25
In cage thraldom, or by the hawk opprest:
And which to choose make plain conclusion,
By loss of life liberty, or life by prison?

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