Laid in my quiet bed, in study as I were,
I saw within my troubled head a heap of thoughts appear
And every thought did show so lively in my eyes
That now I sighed and then I smiled as cause of thought arise
I saw the little boy, in thought how oft that he;
Did wish of God to'scape the rod, a tall young man to be;
The young man eke that feels his bones with pains oppressed
How he would be a rich old man to live and lie at rest;
The rich old man that sees his end draw on so sore,
How he would be a boy again to live so much the more.
Whereat full oft I smiled to see how all these three,
From boy to man, from man to boy would chop and change degree;
And musing thus, I think the case is very strange
That man from wealth to live in woe doth ever seek to change.
Thus thoughtful as I lay, I saw my withered skin
How it doth show my dented chaws, the flesh was worn so thin,
And eke my toothless chaps, the gates of my right way;
That opes and shuts as I do speak, do thus unto me speak:
"Thy white and hoarish hairs, the messengers of age,
That show, like lines of true belief, that this life doth assuage,
Bid thee lay hand and feel them hanging on thy chin
They which do write two ages past, the third now coming in.
Hang up, therefore, the bit of thy young wanton time,
And thou that therein beaten art the happiest life define."
Whereat I sighed and said: "Farewell, my wonted joy.
Truss up thy pack and trudge from me to every little boy
And tell thus from me their time most happy is,
If to their time they reason had to know the truth of this."