University of Virginia Library



A SONG of EMPTINESS, to fill up the Empty Pages following.

Vain , frail, short liv'd and miserable man,
Learn what thou art when thine estate is best;
A restless Wave o'th' troubled Ocean,
A Dream, a lifeless Picture finely drest:
A Wind, a Flower, a Vapour, and a Bubble,
A Wheel that stands not still, and a trembling Reed,
A rolling Stone, dry dust, light Chaff, and Stubble,
A Shadow of something, but nought indeed.
Learn what deceitful Toys, and empty things,
This World and all its best Enjoyments be:
Out of the Earth no true Contentment springs;
But all things here are vexing Vanitee.
For what is Beauty, but a fading Flower?
Or what is Pleasure, but the Devils bait,
Whereby he catcheth whom he would devour,
And multitudes of Souls doth ruinate?
And what are Friends, but mortal men, as we?
Whom Death from us may quickly separate?
Or else their hearts may quite estranged be,
And all their love be turned into hate.


And what are Riches to be doted on?
Uncertain, fickle, and ensnaring things!
They draw mens Souls into Perdition,
And when most needed, take them to their wings.
Ah foolish man, that sets his heart upon
Such empty shadows, such wild fowl as these,
That being gotten will be quickly gone,
And whil'st they stay increase but his disease!
As in a Dropsie, drinking drought begets:
The more he drinks, the more he still requires?
So on this World whoso affection sets,
His Wealth's encrease encreaseth his desires.
O happy man, whose Portion is above,
Where Floods, where Flames, where Foes cannot bereave him.
Most wretched man, that fixed hath his love
Upon this World, that surely will deceive him!
For what is Honour? what is Sov'raignty,
Whereto mens hearts so restlesly aspire?
Whom have they Crowned with Felicity
When did they ever satisfie desire?
The Ear of man with hearing is not fill'd:
To see new sights still coveteth the Eye:
The croking Stomack though it may be still'd,
Yet crokes again without a new supply.
All earthly things mans cravings answer not,
Whose little Heart would all the world contain,
(If all the world should fall to one mans Lot)
And notwithstanding empty still remain.
The Eastern Conquerour was said to weep,
When he the Indian Ocean did view,


To see his conquests bounded by the Deep,
And no more worlds remaining to be subdue.
Who would that man in his Enjoyments bless,
Or envy him, or covet his estate,
Whose gettings do augment his greediness,
And make his Wishes more intemperate?
Such is the wonted and the common guise
Of those on Earth that bear the greatest sway:
If with a few the case be otherwise,
They seek a Kingdom that abides for ay.
Moreover they of all the Sons of men
That Rule, and are in highest Places set,
Are most inclin'd to scorn their Brethren,
And God himself (without great Grace) forget.
For as the Sun doth blind the gazers eyes
That for a time they nought discern aright:
So Honour doth befool and blind the Wise,
And their own Lustre 'reaves them of their sight.
Great are their Dangers, manifold their Cares:
Through which, whil'st others sleep, they scarcely nap:
And yet are oft surprized unawares,
And fall unweeting into Envies Trap.
The mean Mechanick fina's his kindly rest:
All void of fear sleepeth the Countrey Clown:
When greatest Princes often are distrest,
And cannot sleep upon their Beds of Down.
Could Strength or Valour men Immortalize,
Could Wealth or Honour keep them from decay,
There were some cause the same to Idolize,
And give the lye to that which I do say:


But neither can such things, themselves endure
Without the hazzard of a Change one hour,
Nor such as trust in them can they secure
From dismal days, or Deaths prevailing power.
If Beauty could the beautiful defend
From Deaths dominion, then fair Absalome
Had not been brought to such a shameful end:
But fair and foul unto the Grave must come.
If Wealth or Scepters could Immortal make,
Then, wealthy Crœsus, wherefore art thou dead?
If Warlike Force, which makes the World to quake,
Then why is Julius Cæsar perished?
Where are the Scipio's, Thunderbolts of War?
Victorious Pompey, Cesars Enemee?
Stout Hannibal, Rome's Terrour, known so far?
Great Alexander, what's become of thee?
If Gifts and Bribes Deaths favour might but win,
If Power it force, or Threatnings might it fray;
All these and more, had still surviving bin:
But all are gone, for Death will take no Nay.
Such is this World with all her Pomp and Glory;
Such are the men whom worldly eyes admire:
Cut down by Time, and now become a Story,
That we might after better things aspire.
Go boast thy self of what thine heart enjoys,
Vain man! triumph in all thy worldly Bliss:
Thy best Enjoyments are but trash and toys;
Delight thy self in that which worthless is.
Omnia prætereunt præter Amare Deum.