Saturday, April 20, 2013


He Would Be a Boy Again

Henry Howard (1516/17-1547), "How no age is content with his owne estate, and how the age of children is the happiest, if they had skill to vnderstand it,' in Songes and Sonettes written by the right honorable Lorde Henry Haward late Earle of Surrey, and other ([London]: Apud Richardum Tottel, 1557), fo. 18 (line numbers added):
Layd in my quiet bed, in study as I were,
  I saw within my troubled head, a heape of thoughtes appere:
  And euery thought did shewe so liuely in myne eyes,
That now I sighed, & then I smilde, as cause of thought did rise.
  I saw the litle boy in thought, how oft that he      5
Did wish of god, to scape the rod, a tall yong man to be.
  The yongman eke that feles, his bones with paines opprest
How he would be a rich olde man, to lyue, and lye at rest.
  The rych old man that sees his end draw on so sore,
How he would be a boy again, to liue so much the more.      10
  Whereat full oft I smilde, to se, how all these three,
From boy to man, from man to boy, would chop & change degree,
  And musing thus I think, the case is very strange,
That man from welth, to liue in wo, doth euer seke to change.
  Thus thoughtfull as I lay, I saw my witherd skyn,      15
How it doth show my dented chewes, the flesh was worne so thyn:
  And eke my totheless chaps, the gates of my right way,
That opes and shuttes, as I do speake, doe thus vnto me say:
  Thy white and horish heeres, the messengers of age,
That shew like lines of true belife, that this life doth asswage,      20
  Byds thee lay hand, and fele them hanging on thy chin:
The which do write two ages past, the third now comming in.
  Hang vp therfore the bit of thy yong wanton time:
And thou that therin beaten art, the happiest life define,
  Whereat I sighed, and sayd, farewell, my wonted ioy:      25
Trusse vp thy pack, and trudge from me to euery little boy:
  And tell them thus from me, their tyme most happy is:
If, to their time, they reason had to know the trueth of this.
12 chop: barter
16 chewes: jaws
17 chaps: jaws
19 horish heeres: hoary hairs
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