Elegy

May 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of grain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live and now my life is done.

I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and found it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

– Chidiock Tichborne

A poem of simple and stark construction: all but one word is monosyllabic and most lines contain two straightforward, antithetical statements. Tichborne wrote this elegant elegy on the eve of his execution, at the age of 28. It only takes one poem to reach immortality.

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