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THE VANITY OF THE WORLD, by             Poem Explanation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: False world, thou lyest; thou canst not lend
Last Line: Can these bring cordial peace? False world, thou ly'st.
Variant Title(s): The World's Fallacies;wilt Thou Set Thine Eyes
Subject(s): Adversity; Social Protest

False world, thou ly'st: thou canst not lend
The least delight:
Thy favors cannot gain a friend,
They are so slight:
Thy morning pleasures make an end
To please at night:
Poor are the wants that thou supply'st,
And yet thou vaunt'st, and yet thou vy'st
With heaven: fond earth, thou boasts; false
world, thou ly'st.
Thy babbling tongue tells golden tales
Of endless treasure;
Thy bounty offers easy sales
Of lasting pleasure;
Thou ask'st the conscience what she ails,
And swear'st to ease her;
There's none can want where thou supply'st;
There's none can give where thou deny'st.
Alas! fond world, thou boasts; false world, thou ly'st.
What well-advised ear regards
What earth can say?
Thy words are gold, but thy regards
Are painted clay:
The cunning can but pack the cards,
Thou canst not play:
Thy game at weakest, still thou vy'st;
If seen, and then revy'd, deny'st:
Thou art not what thou seem'st; false world, thou ly'st.
Thy tinsel bosom seems a mint
Of new-coined treasure;
A paradise, that has no stint,
No change, no measure;
A painted cask, but nothing in 't,
Nor wealth, nor pleasure:
Vain earth! that falsely thus comply'st
With man; vain man! that thou rely'st
On earth; vain man, thou dot'st; vain earth, thou ly'st.
What means dull souls, in this high measure,
to haberdash
In earth's base wares, whose greatest treasure
Is dross and trash?
The height of whose enchanting pleasure
Is but a flash?
Are these the goods that thou supply'st
Us mortals with? Are these the high'st?
Can these bring cordial peace? false world, thou ly'st.

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