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Stephen Hawes

(1474-1523 / England)

The Pastime of Pleasure


The good Dame Mercy with Dame Charyte
My body buryed full ryght humbly
In a fayre temple of olde antyquyte,
Where was for me a dyryge devoutely
And with many a masse full ryght solempnely;
And over my grave, to be in memory,
Remembraunce made this lytell epytaphy:

"O erthe, on erthe it is a wonders cace
That thou arte blynde and wyll not the knowe.
Though upon erthe thou hast thy dwellynge-place,
Yet erthe at laste must nedes the overthrowe.
Thou thynkest the to be none erthe I trowe;
For yf thou dydest, thou woldest than apply
To forsake pleasure and to lerne to dy.

"O erthe, of erthe why arte thou so proude?
Now what thou arte call to remembraunce.
Open thyn eres unto my songe aloude.
Is not thy beauté, strength, and puyssaunce,
Though it be cladde with cloth{.e}s of plesaunce,
Very erthe and also worm{.e}s fode,
Whan erthe to erthe shall so tourne the blode?
...
"The vyle carkes set upon a fyre
Dooth often haunte the synne of lechery,
Fulfyllynge the foule carnall desyre.
Thus erthe with erthe is corrupte mervaylously;
And erthe on erthe wyll nothynge puryfye
Tyll erthe to erthe be nere subverted.
For erthe with erthe is so perverted.

"O mortall folke! you may beholde and se
Howe I lye here, sometyme a myghty knyght;
The end of joye and all prosperyte
Is dethe at last, through his course and myght;
After the day there cometh the derke night;
For though the day be never so longe,
At last the belles ryngeth to evensonge.

"And my selfe called La Graunde Amoure,
Sekynge adventure in the worldly glory,
For to attayne the ryches and honoure,
Did thynke full lytell that I sholde here ly,
Tyll dethe dyde marke me full ryght pryvely.
Lo what I am! and whereto you must!
Lyke as I am so shall you be all dust.

"Than in your mynde inwardely dyspyse
The bryttle worlde, so full of doublenes,
With the vyle flesshe, and ryght sone aryse
Out of your slepe of mortall hevynes;
Subdue the devill with grace and mekenes,
That after your lyfe frayle and transytory,
You may then lyve in joye perdurably."

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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