HIS AGE: DEDICATED TO HIS PECULIAR FRIEND, MR JOHN WICKES, UNDER THE NAME OF POSTUMUS
Ah, Posthumus! our years hence fly
And leave no sound: nor piety,
Or prayers, or vow
Can keep the wrinkle from the brow;
But we must on,
As fate does lead or draw us; none,
None, Posthumus, could e'er decline
The doom of cruel Proserpine.
The pleasing wife, the house, the ground
Must all be left, no one plant found
To follow thee,
Save only the curst cypress-tree!
--A merry mind
Looks forward, scorns what's left behind;
Let's live, my Wickes, then, while we may,
And here enjoy our holiday.
We've seen the past best times, and these
Will ne'er return; we see the seas,
And moons to wane,
But they fill up their ebbs again;
But vanish'd man,
Like to a lily lost, ne'er can,
Ne'er can repullulate, or bring
His days to see a second spring.
But on we must, and thither tend,
Where Ancus and rich Tullus blend
Their sacred seed;
Thus has infernal Jove decreed;
We must be made,
Ere long a song, ere long a shade.
Why then, since life to us is short,
Let's make it full up by our sport.
Crown we our heads with roses then,
And 'noint with Tyrian balm; for when
We two are dead,
The world with us is buried.
Then live we free
As is the air, and let us be
Our own fair wind, and mark each one
Day with the white and lucky stone.
We are not poor, although we have
No roofs of cedar, nor our brave
Baiae, nor keep
Account of such a flock of sheep;
Nor bullocks fed
To lard the shambles; barbels bred
To kiss our hands; nor do we wish
For Pollio's lampreys in our dish.
If we can meet, and so confer,
Both by a shining salt-cellar,
And have our roof,
Although not arch'd, yet weather-proof,
And cieling free,
From that cheap candle-baudery;
We'll eat our bean with that full mirth
As we were lords of all the earth.
Well, then, on what seas we are tost,
Our comfort is, we can't be lost.
Let the winds drive
Our bark, yet she will keep alive
Amidst the deeps;
'Tis constancy, my Wickes, which keeps
The pinnace up; which, though she errs
I' th' seas, she saves her passengers.
Say, we must part; sweet mercy bless
Us both i' th' sea, camp, wilderness!
Can we so far
Stray, to become less circular
Than we are now?
No, no, that self-same heart, that vow
Which made us one, shall ne'er undo,
Or ravel so, to make us two.