4. To the World
(A Farewell for a Gentlewoman, Virtuous and Noble)
False world, good night! since thou hast brought
That hour upon my morn of age;
Henceforth I quit thee from my thought,
My part is ended on thy stage.
Do not once hope, that thou canst tempt
A spirit so resolved to tread
Upon thy throat, and live exempt
From all the nets that thou canst spread.
I know thy forms are studied arts,
Thy subtle ways, be narrow straits;
Thy courtesy but sudden starts,
And what thou call'st thy gifts are baits.
I know too, though thou strut and paint,
Yet art thou both shrunk up and old,
That only fools make thee a saint,
And all thy good is to be sold.
I know thou whole art but a shop
Of toys and trifles, traps and snares,
To take the weak or make them stop:
Yet art thou falser than thy wares
And, knowing this, should I yet stay,
Like such as blow away their lives
And never will redeem a day,
Enamoured of their golden gyves?
Or having 'scaped, shall I return
And thrust my neck into the noose,
From whence so lately I did burn,
With all my powers, myself to loose?
What bird or beast is known so dull
That fled his cage, or broke his chain,
And tasting air and freedom, will
Render his head in there again?
If these, who have but sense, can shun
The engines that have them annoyed,
Little for me had reason done,
If I could not thy gins avoid
Yes, threaten, do. Alas! I fear
As little as I hope from thee:
I know thou canst not show nor bear
More hatred than thou hast to me.
My tender, first, and simple years
Thou didst abuse and then betray;
Since stir'd'st up jealousies and fears,
When all the causes were away.
Then in a soil hast planted me
Where breathe the basest of thy fools;
Where envious arts professed be,
And pride and ignorance the schools;
Where nothing is examined, weigh'd,
But as 'tis rumour'd, so believed;
Where every freedom is betray'd,
And every goodness tax'd or grieved.
But what we're born for, we must bear:
Our frail condition it is such
That what to all may happen here,
If 't chance to me, I must not grutch.
Else I my state should much mistake
To harbour a divided thought
From all my kind;that, for my sake,
There should a miracle be wrought.
No, I do know that I was born
To age, misfortune, sickness, grief:
But I will bear these with that scorn
As shall not need thy false relief.
Nor for my peace will I go far,
As wanderers do, that still do roam;
But make my strengths, such as they are,
Here in my bosom, and at home.