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Francis Quarles

(8 May 1592 – 8 September 1644 / Romford, Essex, England)

On The Life And Death Of Man


The world's a theatre. The earth, a stage
Placed in the midst: where both prince and page,
Both rich and poor, fool, wise man, base and high,
All act their parts in life's short tragedy.
Our life's a tragedy. Those secret rooms,
Wherein we 'tire us, are our mothers' wombs.
The music ushering in the play is mirth
To see a man-child brought upon the earth.
That fainting gasp of breath which first we vent,
Is a dumb show; presents the argument.
Our new-born cries, that new-born griefs bewray,
Are the sad prologue of the ensuing play.
False hopes, true fears, vain joys, and fierce distracts,
Are like the music that divides the Acts.
Time holds the glass, and when the hour's outrun,
Death strikes the epilogue, and the play is done.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010

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