Treasure Island

Chidiock Tichborne

(c. 24 August 1562 - 20 September 1586 / Southampton, England)

My Prime of Youth Is But a Frost of Cares


My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain.
The day is gone and I yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
My youth is gone, and yet I am but young,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen,
My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I look't for life and saw it was a shade,
I trode the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I am but made.
The glass is full, and now the glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Bryan Baker (8/5/2014 9:24:00 PM)

    It is highly unlikely that the poet wrote this on the eve of his execution. He would almost certainly have known of the horrible death that awaited him the following morning (hanging, drawing, and quartering carried out in the presence of a crazed mob howling for his blood) , a prospect that would have made the writing of poetry next to impossible. It is more likely the case that he composed the poem sometime during what was probably a lengthy imprisonment leading up to his execution and only afterwards did the story arise that he had penned it the night before his death. (Report) Reply

  • S Jones (2/22/2005 6:09:00 PM)

    Chidiock Tichborne was convicted as a plotter in the Babington Conspiracy, a Catholic plot that aimed to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I and put Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. Tichborne was executed on September 20th 1586. He wrote the poem on the eve of his execution. (Report) Reply

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