Richard Lovelace

(1618-1657 / London / England)

A Fly Caught In A Cobweb


Small type of great ones, that do hum
Within this whole world's narrow room,
That with a busie hollow noise
Catch at the people's vainer voice,
And with spread sails play with their breath,
Whose very hails new christen death.
Poor Fly, caught in an airy net,
Thy wings have fetter'd now thy feet;
Where, like a Lyon in a toyl,
Howere thou keep'st a noble coyl,
And beat'st thy gen'rous breast, that o're
The plains thy fatal buzzes rore,
Till thy all-bellyd foe (round elf)
Hath quarter'd thee within himself.

Was it not better once to play
I' th' light of a majestick ray,
Where, though too neer and bold, the fire
Might sindge thy upper down attire,
And thou i' th' storm to loose an eye.
A wing, or a self-trapping thigh:
Yet hadst thou fal'n like him, whose coil
Made fishes in the sea to broyl,
When now th'ast scap'd the noble flame;
Trapp'd basely in a slimy frame,
And free of air, thou art become
Slave to the spawn of mud and lome?

Nor is't enough thy self do's dresse
To thy swoln lord a num'rous messe,
And by degrees thy thin veins bleed,
And piecemeal dost his poyson feed;
But now devour'd, art like to be
A net spun for thy familie,
And, straight expanded in the air,
Hang'st for thy issue too a snare.
Strange witty death and cruel ill
That, killing thee, thou thine dost kill!
Like pies, in whose entombed ark
All fowl crowd downward to a lark,
Thou art thine en'mies' sepulcher,
And in thee buriest, too, thine heir.

Yet Fates a glory have reserv'd
For one so highly hath deserv'd.
As the rhinoceros doth dy
Under his castle-enemy,
As through the cranes trunk throat doth speed,
The aspe doth on his feeder feed;
Fall yet triumphant in thy woe,
Bound with the entrails of thy foe.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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