George Gascoigne

(1535 – 7 October 1577 / Cardington, Bedfordshire)

When Thou Hast Spent The Lingering Day

WHEN thou hast spent the lingering day in pleasure and delght,
Or after toil and weary way, dost seek to rest at night,
Unto thy pains or pleasures past, add this one labor yet:
Ere sleep close up thine eye too fast, do not thy God forget,
But search within thy secret thoughts, what deeds did thee befall;
And if thou find amiss in aught, to God for mercy call.
Yea, though thou find nothing amiss which thou canst call to mind,
Yet evermore remmeber this: there is the more behind;
And think how well so ever it be that thou hast spent the day,
It came of God, and not of thee, so to direct thy way.
Thus if thou try thy daily deeds and pleasure in this pain,
Thy life shall cleanse thy corn from weeds, and thine shall be the gain;
But if thy sinful, sluggish eye will venture for to wink,
Before thy wading will may try how far thy soul may sink,
Beware and wake; for else, thy bed, which soft and smooth is made,
May heap more harm upon thy head than blows of en'my's blade.
Thus if this pain procure thine ease, in bed as thou dost lie,
Perhaps it shall not God displease to sing thus, soberly:

``I see that sleep is lent me here to ease my weary bones,
As death at last shall eke appear, to ease my grievous groans.
My daily sports, my paunch full fed, have caused my drowsy eye,
As careless life, in quiet led, might cause my soul to die.
The stretching arms, the yawning breath, which I to bedward use,
Are patterns of the pangs of death, when life will me refuse.
And of my bed each sundry part in shadows doth resemble
The sundry shapes of death, whose dart shall make my flesh to tremble.
My bed itself is like the grave, my sheets the winding sheet,
My clothes the mold which I must have to cover me most meet;
The hungry fleas, which frisk so fresh, to worms I can compare,
Which greedily shall gnaw my flesh and leave the bones full bare.
The waking cock, that early crows to wear the night away
Puts in my mind the trump that blows before the Latter Day.
And as I rise up lustily when sluggish sleep is past,
So hope I to rise joyfully to Judgment at the last.
Thus will I wake, thus will I sleep, thus will I hope to rise,
Thus will I neither wail nor weep, but sing in godly wise;
My bones shall in this bed remain, my soul in God shall trust,
By whom I hope to rise again from death and earthly dust.''

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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