Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE QUIET LIFE, by WILLIAM BYRD



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THE QUIET LIFE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: What pleasure have great princes
Last Line: Yet merry it is, and quiet.
Subject(s): Conduct Of Life


What pleasure have great princes
More dainty to their choice
Than herdsmen wild, who careless
In quiet life rejoice?
And, fortune's fate not fearing,
Sing sweet in summer morning?

Their dealings plain and rightful,
Are void of all deceit;
They never know how spiteful
It is to kneel and wait
On favorite presumptuous
Whose pride is vain and sumptuous.

All day their flocks each tendeth,
At night they take their rest,
More quiet than who sendeth
His ship into the East,
Where gold and pearl are plenty,
But getting very dainty.

For lawyers and their pleading,
They 'steem it not a straw;
They think that honest meaning
Is of itself a law,
Whence conscience judgeth plainly;
They spend no money vainly.

O happy who thus liveth!
Not caring much for gold;
With clothing which sufficeth
To keep him from the cold.
Though poor and plain his diet,
Yet merry it is, and quiet.





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