Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Elizabethan Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Elizabethan Verse.  1907.
Loss in Delay
By Robert Southwell (c. 1561–1595)
  SHUN 1 delays, they breed remorse;
Take thy time while time is lent thee;
  Creeping snails have weakest force,
Fly their fault, lest thou repent thee.
    Good is best when soonest wrought,        5
    Linger’d labours come to nought.
  Hoist up sail while gale doth last,
Tide and wind stay no man’s pleasure;
  Seek not time when time is past,
Sober speed is wisdom’s leisure.        10
    After-wits are dearly bought,
    Let thy fore-wit guide thy thought.
  Time wears all his locks before,
Take thy hold upon his forehead;
  When he flies he turns no more,        15
And behind his scalp is nakèd.
    Works adjourn’d have many stays,
    Long demurs breed new delays.
Note 1. Southwell wrote seven stanzas to this poem, of which, following Mr. Quiller-Couch’s example, I give only the first three. The other four convey the same advice in varying metaphors, and the poem concludes:
  Happy man, that soon, doth knock
Babel’s babes against the rock.

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