Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
Lord Stafford’s Meditations in the Tower
GO 1 empty joys,
With all your noise,
And leave me here alone,
In sad, sweet silence to bemoan
The fickle worldly height        5
Whose danger none can see aright,
Whilst your false splendours dim the sight.
Go, and ensnare
With your trim ware
Some other worldly wight,        10
And cheat him with your flattering light;
Rain on his head a shower
Of honour, greatness, wealth, and power;
Then snatch it from him in an hour.
Fill his big mind        15
With gallant wind
Of insolent applause;
Let him not fear the curbing laws,
Nor king, nor people’s frown;
But dream of something like a crown,        20
Then, climbing upwards, tumble down.
Let him appear
In his bright sphere
Like Cynthia in her pride,
With starlike troops on every side;        25
For number and clear light
Such as may soon o’erwhelm him quite,
And blend them both in one dead night.
Welcome, sad night,
Grief’s sole delight,        30
Thy mourning best agrees
With honour’s funeral obsequies!
In Thetis’ lap he lies,
Mantled with soft securities,
Whose too much sunshine dims his eyes.        35
Was he too bold,
Who needs would hold
With curbing reins the Day,
And make Sol’s fiery steeds obey?
Therefore as rash was I        40
Who with Ambition’s wings did fly
In Charles’s Wain 2 too loftily.
I fall, I fall!
Whom shall I call?
Alas! shall I be heard,        45
Who now is neither loved nor feared?
You, who have vowed the ground
To kiss, where my blest steps were found,
Come, catch me at my last rebound.
How each admires        50
Heaven’s twinkling fires,
Whilst from their glorious seat
Their influence gives light and heat;
But oh! how few there are,
Though danger from the act be far,        55
Will run to catch a falling star!
Now ’tis too late
To imitate
Those lights, whose pallidness
Argues no inward guiltiness;        60
Their course one way is bent;
Which is the cause there’s no dissent
In Heaven’s High Court of Parliament.
Note 1. These verses are from a Broad-sheet ballad, published in 1641, the year of Lord Strafford’s execution, and there entitled Verses lately written by Thomas Earl of Strafford. [back]
Note 2. Charles’ wain: a popular name given to the group of seven stars in the constellation of Ursa Major. “The play upon words,” declares Professor Schelling, (Seventeenth Century Lyrics) “by which Charles’ (the King’s) wain (wagon) is likened to the chariot of the Sun, and Strafford’s ‘ambitious wings’ to the audacious act of Phaeton in attempting to drive his father’s fiery steeds, is as apt as it is obvious.” [back]

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