Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
Lines from “The Pilgrim’s Farewell”
LXXXV. William Lithgow
THIS 1 worthlesse honour, that desert not reares,
Is but as fruitlesse showes, which bloome, then perish:
Where merite buildes not, that foundation teares.
There’s nought but trueth that can man’s standing cherish:
This great experience dayly now appeares,        5
  What one upholdes, another he downe casts,
  This gentle blood doth suffer many blasts.
I smyle to see some bragging gentle-men,
That clayme their discent from king Arthur great;
And they will drinke, and sweare, and roare: what then?        10
Would make their betters foote-stooles to their feet,
And stryve to bee applaus’d with print and pen;
  And were hee but a farmer, if hee can
  But keepe an hound,—O there’s a gentle-man!
But, foolish thou, looke to the grave, and learne        15
How man lies there deform’d, consum’d in dust;
And in that mappe thy judgement may discearne
How little thou in birth and blood shouldst trust.
Such sightes are good,—they doe thy soule concerne.
  Wer’st thou a kinglie sonne, and vertue want,        20
  Thou art more brute than beastes which desarts hant.
And more, vaine worlde, I see thy great transgression,
Each day new murther, blood-shed, craft, and thift,
Thy lovelesse law, and lawlesse proude oppression,
Thy stiffeneckt crew their heads ov’r saincts they lift,        25
And, misregarding God, fall in degression:
  The widdow mournes, the proude the poore oppresse,
  The rich contemne the silly fatherlesse:
And rich men gape, and, not content, seeke more,
By sea and land, for gaine, run manie miles;        30
The noblest strive for state, ambition’s glore,
To have preferment, landes, and greatest stiles,
Yet nev’r content of all, when they have store;
  And from the sheepheard to the king, I see,
  There’s no contentment for a worldlie eye.        35
O! is hee poore, then faine he would bee rich;
And rich, what tormentes his great griede doth feele:
And is hee gentle, hee strives moe hightes t’ touch;
If hee unthrives, hee hates another’s weele;
His eyes pull home what his handes dare not fetch.        40
  A quiet minde, who can attaine that hight,
  But either slaine by griede or envie’s spright?
Man’s naked borne, and naked hee returnes,
Yet whiles hee lives God’s providence mistrustes;
Hee gapes for pelfe, and still in avarice burnes;        45
And, having all, hath nothing but his lustes,
Insatiate still, backe to his vomite turnes.
  Vilde dust and earth, believ’st thou in a shadow,
  Whose high-tun’d prime falles like a new-mowne medow?
I grieve to see the world and worldling playing:        50
The wretch, puft up, is swell’d with hellish griede;
The worlde deceives him with a swift assaying;
And as hee stands, hee cannot take good heede,
But for small trash must yeelde eternal paying:
  And dead, another enjoyes what hee got,        55
  And spendes up all, whiles hee in grave doeth rot.
Note 1. LXXXV. William Lithgow.—In 1614 appeared a work entitled “The 19 Yeares’ Travells of William Lithgow. By 3 Voyages in Europe, Asia, and Africa.” He also wrote “Pilgrim’s Farewell,” which was published in 1618. It is from the latter work that our extract is derived. [back]

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