Robert Southwell

(1561 - 1595 / England)

Content and Rich


I dwell in Grace's court,
Enriched with Virtue's rights;
Faith guides my wit, Love leads my will,
Hope all my mind delights.

In lowly vales I mount
To pleasure's highest pitch;
My silly shroud true honour brings;
My poor estate is rich.

My conscience is my crown,
Contented thoughts my rest;
My heart is happy in itself;
My bliss is in my breast.

Enough, I reckon wealth;
That mean, the surest lot,
That lies too high for base contempt,
Too low for envy's shot.

My wishes are but few
All easy to fulfil;
I make the limits of my power
The bounds unto my will.

I fear no care for gold;
Well-doing is my wealth;
My mind to me an empire is,
While grace affordeth health.

I clip high-climbing thoughts,
The wings of swelling pride;
Their fall is worst that from the heigh
Of greatest honour slide.

Since sails of largest size
The storm doth soonest tear;
I bear so low and small a sail
As freeth me from fear.

I wrestle not with rage,
While fury's flame doth burn;
It is in vain to stop the stream
Until the tide doth turn.

But when the flame is out,
And ebbing wrath doth end,
I turn a late enraged foe
Into a quiet friend.

And, taught with often proof,
A temper'd calm I find
To be most solace to itself,
Best cure for angry mind.

Spare diet is my fare,
My clothes more fit than fine;
I know I feed and clothe a foe,
That pamper'd would repine.

I envy not their hap
Whom favour doth advance;
I take no pleasure in their pain
That have less happy chance.

To rise by others' fall
I deem a losing gain;
All states with others' ruin built,
To ruin run amain.

No change of fortune's calm
Can cast my comforts down;
When fortune smiles, I smile to think
How quickly she will frown.

And when, in froward mood,
She prov'd an angry foe;
Small gain I found to let her come, -
Less loss to let her go.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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