The World - Poem by Katherine Philips
Wee falsely think it due unto our friends,
That we should grieve for their too early ends:
He that surveys the world with serious eys,
And stripps Her from her grosse and weak disguise,
Shall find 'tis injury to mourn their fate;
He only dy's untimely who dy's Late.
For if 'twere told to children in the womb,
To what a stage of mischief they must come
Could they foresee with how much toile and sweat
Men court that Guilded nothing, being Great;
What paines they take not to be what they seem,
Rating their blisse by others false esteem,
And sacrificing their content, to be
Guilty of grave and serious Vanity;
How each condition hath its proper Thorns,
And what one man admires, another Scorns;
How frequently their happiness they misse,
And so farre from agreeing what it is,
That the same Person we can hardly find,
Who is an houre together in a mind;
Sure they would beg a period of their breath,
And what we call their birth would count their Death.
Mankind is mad; for none can live alone
Because their joys stand by comparison:
And yet they quarrell at Society,
And strive to kill they know not whom, nor why,
We all live by mistake, delight in Dreames,
Lost to ourselves, and dwelling in extreames;
Rejecting what we have, though ne're so good,
And prizing what we never understood.
compar'd to our boystrous inconstancy
Tempests are calme, and discords harmony.
Hence we reverse the world, and yet do find
The God that made can hardly please our mind.
We live by chance, and slip into Events;
Have all of Beasts except their Innocence.
The soule, which no man's pow'r can reach, a thing
That makes each women Man, each man a King.
Doth so much loose, and from its height so fall,
That some content to have no Soule at all.
"Tis either not observ'd, or at the best
By passion fought withall, by sin deprest.
Freedome of will (god's image) is forgot;
And if we know it, we improve it not.
Our thoughts, thou nothing can be more our own,
Are still unguided, verry seldom known.
Time 'scapes our hands as water in a Sieve,
We come to dy ere we begin to Live.
Truth, the most suitable and noble Prize,
Food of our spirits, yet neglected ly's.
Errours and shaddows ar our choice, and we
Ow our perdition to our Own decree.
If we search Truth, we make it more obscure;
And when it shines, we can't the Light endure;
For most men who plod on, and eat, and drink,
Have nothing less their business then to think;
And those few that enquire, how small a share
Of Truth they fine! how dark their notions are!
That serious evenness that calmes the Brest,
And in a Tempest can bestow a rest,
We either not attempt, or elce [sic] decline,
By every triffle snatch'd from our design.
(Others he must in his deceits involve,
Who is not true unto his own resolve.)
We govern not our selves, but loose the reins,
Courting our bondage to a thousand chains;
And with as man slaverys content,
As there are Tyrants ready to Torment,
We live upon a Rack, extended still
To one extreme, or both, but always ill.
For since our fortune is not understood,
We suffer less from bad then from the good.
The sting is better drest and longer lasts,
As surfeits are more dangerous than fasts.
And to compleat the misery to us,
We see extreames are still contiguous.
And as we run so fast from what we hate,
Like Squibs on ropes, to know no middle state;
So (outward storms strengthen'd by us) we find
Our fortune as disordred as our mind.
But that's excus'd by this, it doth its part;
A treacherous world befits a treacherous heart.
All ill's our own; the outward storms we loath
Receive from us their birth, or sting, or both;
And that our Vanity be past a doubt,
'Tis one new vanity to find it out.
Happy are they to whom god gives a Grave,
And from themselves as from his wrath doeth save.
'Tis good not to be born; but if we must,
The next good is, soone to return to Dust:
When th'uncag'd soule, fled to Eternity,
Shall rest and live, and sing, and love, and See.
Here we but crawle and grope, and play and cry;
Are first our own, then others Enemy:
But there shall be defac'd both stain and score,
For time, and Death, and sin shall be no more.
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