Verse > Anthologies > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of English Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
  
Thomas Nashe. 1567–1601
  
167. In Time of Pestilence
1593
  
ADIEU, farewell earth's bliss! 
This world uncertain is: 
Fond are life's lustful joys, 
Death proves them all but toys. 
None from his darts can fly;         5
I am sick, I must die— 
        Lord, have mercy on us! 
 
Rich men, trust not in wealth, 
Gold cannot buy you health; 
Physic himself must fade;  10
All things to end are made; 
The plague full swift goes by; 
I am sick, I must die— 
        Lord, have mercy on us! 
 
Beauty is but a flower  15
Which wrinkles will devour; 
Brightness falls from the air; 
Queens have died young and fair; 
Dust hath closed Helen's eye; 
I am sick, I must die—  20
        Lord, have mercy on us! 
 
Strength stoops unto the grave, 
Worms feed on Hector brave; 
Swords may not fight with fate; 
Earth still holds ope her gate;  25
Come, come! the bells do cry; 
I am sick, I must die— 
        Lord, have mercy on us! 
 
Wit with his wantonness 
Tasteth death's bitterness;  30
Hell's executioner 
Hath no ears for to hear 
What vain art can reply; 
I am sick, I must die— 
        Lord, have mercy on us!  35
 
Haste therefore each degree 
To welcome destiny; 
Heaven is our heritage, 
Earth but a player's stage. 
Mount we unto the sky;  40
I am sick, I must die— 
        Lord, have mercy on us! 
 
 
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