The Miseries of Man
by Anne Killigrew
1 In that so temperate Soil Arcadia nam'd,
1 For fertile Pasturage by Poets fam'd;
2 Stands a steep Hill, whose lofty jetting Crown,
3 Casts o'er the neighbouring Plains, a seeming Frown;
4 Close at its mossie Foot an aged Wood,
5 Compos'd of various Trees, there long has stood,
6 Whose thick united Tops scorn the Sun's Ray,
7 And hardly will admit the Eye of Day.
8 By oblique windings through this gloomy Shade,
9 Has a clear purling Stream its Passage made,
10 The Nimph, as discontented seem'd t'ave chose
11 This sad Recess to murmur forth her Woes.
12 To this Retreat, urg'd by tormenting Care,
13 The melancholly Cloris did repair,
14 As a fit Place to take the sad Relief
15 Of Sighs and Tears, to ease oppressing Grief.
16 Near to the Mourning Nimph she chose a Seat,
17 And these Complaints did to the Shades repeat.
18 Ah wretched, trully wretched Humane Race!
19 Your Woes from what Beginning shall I trace,
20 Where End, from your first feeble New-born Cryes,
21 To the last Tears that wet your dying Eyes?
22 Man, Common Foe, assail'd on ev'ry hand,
23 Finds that no Ill does Neuter by him stand,
24 Inexorable Death, Lean Poverty,
25 Pale Sickness, ever sad Captivity.
26 Can I, alas, the sev'ral Parties name,
27 Which, muster'd up, the Dreadful Army frame?
28 And sometimes in One Body all Unite,
29 Sometimes again do separately fight:
30 While sure Success on either Way does waite,
31 Either a Swift, or else a Ling'ring Fate.
32 But why 'gainst thee, O Death! should I inveigh,
33 That to our Quiet art the only way?
34 And yet I would (could I thy Dart command)
35 Crie, Here O strike! and there O hold thy Hand!
36 The Lov'd, the Happy, and the Youthful spare,
37 And end the Sad, the Sick, the Poor Mans Care.
38 But whether thou or Blind, or Cruel art,
39 Whether 'tis Chance, or Malice, guides thy Dart,
40 Thou from the Parents Arms dost pull away
41 The hopeful Child, their Ages only stay:
42 The Two, whom Friendship in dear Bands hs ty'd,
43 Thou dost with a remorseless hand devide;
44 Friendship, the Cement, that does faster twine
45 Two Souls, than that which Soul and Body joyn:
46 Thousands have been, who their own Blood did spill,
47 But never any yet his Friend did kill.
48 Then 'gainst thy Dart what Armour can be found,
49 Who, where thou do'st not strike, do'st deepest wound?
50 Thy Pitty, than thy Wrath's more bitter far,
51 Most cruel, where 'twould seem the most to spare:
52 Yet thou of many Evils art but One,
53 Though thou by much too many art alone.
54 What shall I say of Poverty, whence flows?
55 To miserable Man so many Woes?
56 Rediculous Evil which too oft we prove,
57 Does Laughter cause, where it should Pitty move;
58 Solitary Ill, into which no Eye,
59 Though ne're so Curious, ever cares to pry,
60 And were there, 'mong such plenty, onely One
61 Poor Man, he certainly would live alone.
62 Yet Poverty does leave the Man entire,
63 But Sickness nearer Mischiefs does conspire;
64 Invades the Body with a loath'd Embrace,
65 Prides both its Strength, and Beauty to deface;
66 Nor does it Malice in these bounds restrain,
67 But shakes the Throne of Sacred Wit, the Brain,
68 And with a ne're enough detested Force
69 Reason disturbs, and turns out of its Course.
70 Again, when Nature some Rare Piece has made,
71 On which her Utmost Skill she seems t'ave laid,
72 Polish't, adorn'd the Work with moving Grace,
73 And in the Beauteous Frame a Soul doth place,
74 So perfectly compos'd, it makes Divine
75 Each Motion, Word, and Look from thence does shine;
76 This Goodly Composition, the Delight
77 Of ev'ry Heart, and Joy of ev'ry sight,
78 Its peevish Malice has the Power to spoyle,
79 And with a Sully'd Hand its Lusture soyle.
80 The Grief were Endless, that should all bewaile,
81 Against whose sweet Repose thou dost prevail:
82 Some freeze with Agues, some with Feavers burn,
82 Whose Lives thou half out of their Holds dost turn;
83 And of whose Sufferings it may be said,
84 They living feel the very State o' th' Dead.
85 Thou in a thousand sev'ral Forms are drest,
86 And in them all dost Wretched Man infest.
87 And yet as if these Evils were too few,
88 Men their own Kind with hostile Arms pursue;
89 Not Heavens fierce Wrath, nor yet the Hate of Hell,
90 Not any Plague that e're the World befel,
91 Not Inundations, Famines, Fires blind rage,
92 Did ever Mortals equally engage,
93 As Man does Man, more skilful to annoy,
94 Both Mischievous and Witty to destroy.
95 The bloody Wolf, the Wolf doe not pursue;
96 The Boar, though fierce, his Tusk will not embrue
97 In his own Kind, Bares, not on Bares do prey:
98 Then art thou, Man, more savage far than they.
99 And now, methinks, I present do behold
100 The Bloudy Fields that are in Fame enroll'd,
101 I see, I see thousands in Battle slain,
102 The Dead and Dying cover all the Plain,
103 Confused Noises hear, each way sent out,
104 The Vanquishts Cries joyn'd with the Victors shout;
105 Their Sighs and Groans whho draw a painful Breath,
106 And feel the Pangs of slow approaching Death:
107 Yet happier these, far happier are the Dead,
108 Than who into Captivity are led:
109 What by their Chains, and by the Victors Pride,
110 We pity these, and envy those that dy'd.
111 And who can say, when Thousands are betray'd,
112 To Widdowhood, Orphants or Childless made.
113 Whither the Day does draw more Tears or Blood
114 A greater Chrystal, or a Crimson Floud.
115 The faithful Wife, who late her Lord did Arm,
116 And hop'd to shield, by holy Vows, from Harm,
117 Follow'd his parting-steps with Love and Care,
118 Sent after weeping Eyes, while he afar
119 Rod heated on, born by a brave Disdain,
120 May now go seek him, lying 'mong the Slain:
121 Low on the Earth she'l find his lofty Crest,
122 And those refulgent Arms which late his Breast
123 Did guard, by rough Encounters broke and tore,
124 His Face and Hair, with Brains all clotted ore.
125 And Warlike Weeds besmeer'd with Dust and Gore.
126 And will the Suffering World never bestow
127 Upon th'Accursed Causers of such Woe,
128 A vengeance that may parallel their Loss,
129 Fix Publick Thieves and Robbers on the Cross?
130 Such as call Ruine, Conquest, in their Pride,
131 And having plagu'd Mankind, in Triumph ride.
132 Like that renounced Murder who staines
133 In these our days Alsatias fertile Plains,
134 Only to fill the future Tomp of Fame,
135 Though greater Crimes, than Glory it proclame.
136 Alcides, Scourge of Thieves, return to Earth,
137 Which uncontrolled gives such Monsters birth;
138 On Scepter'd-Cacus let thy Power be shown,
139 Pull him not from his Den, but from his Throne.
140 Clouds of black Thoughts her further Speech here broke,
141 Her swelling Grief too great was to be spoke,
142 Which strugl'd long in her tormented Mind,
143 Till it some Vent by Sighs and Tears did find.
144 And when her Sorrow something was subdu'd,
145 She thus again her sad Complaint renewed.
146 Most Wretched Man, were th'Ills I nam'd before
147 All which I could in thy sad State deplore,
148 Did Things without alone 'gainst thee prevail,
149 My Tongue I'de chide, that them I did bewaile:
150 But, Shame to Reason, thou are seen to be
151 Unto thy self the fatall'st Enemy,
152 Within thy Breast the Greatest Plagues to bear,
153 First them to breed, and then to cherish there;
154 Unmanag'd Passions which the Reins have broke
155 Of Reason, and refuse to bear its Yoke.
156 But hurry thee, uncurb'd, from place to place,
157 A wild, unruly, and an Uncouth Chace.
158 Now cursed Gold does lead the Man astray,
159 False flatt'ring Honours do anon betray,
160 Then Beauty does as dang'rously delude,
161 Beauty, that vanishes, while 'tis pursu'd,
162 That, while we do behold it, fades away,
163 And even a Long Encomium will not stay.
164 Each one of these can the Whole Man employ,
165 Nor knows he anger, sorrow, fear, or joy,
166 But what to these relate; no Thought does start
167 Aside, but tends to its appointed Part,
168 No Respite to himself from Cares he gives,
169 But on the Rack of Expectation lives.
170 If crost, the Torment cannot be exprest,
171 Which boyles within his agitated Breast.
172 Musick is harsh, all Mirth is an offence,
173 The Choicest Meats cannot delight his Sense,
174 Hard as the Earth he feels his Downy Bed,
175 His Pillow stufft with Thornes, that bears his Head,
176 He rolls from side to side, in vain seeks Rest;
177 For if sleep come at last to the Distrest,
178 His Troubles then cease not to vex him too,
179 But Dreams present, what does waking do.
180 On th'other side, if he obtains the Prey,
181 And Fate to his impetuous Sute gives way,
182 Be he or Rich, or Amorous, or Great,
183 He'll find this Riddle still of a Defeat,
184 That only Care, for Bliss, he home has brought,
185 Or else Contempt of what he so much sought.
186 So that on each Event if we reflect,
187 The Joys and Sufferings of both sides collect,
188 We cannot say where lies the greatest Pain,
189 In the fond Pursuit, Loss, or Empty Gain.
190 And can it be, Lord of the Sea and Earth,
191 Off-spring of Heaven, that to thy State and Birth
192 Things so incompatible should be joyn'd,
193 Passions should thee confound, to Heaven assign'd?
194 Passions that do the Soul unguarded lay,
195 And to the strokes of Fortune ope' a way.
196 Were't not that these thy Force did from thee take,
197 How bold, how brave Resistance would'st thou make?
198 Defie the Strength and Malice of thy Foes,
199 Unmoved stand the Worlds United Blows?
200 For what is't, Man, unto thy Better Part,
201 That thou or Sick, or Poor, or Captive art?
202 Since no Material Stroke the Soul can feel,
203 The smart of Fire, or yet the Edge of Steel.
204 As little can it Worldly Joys partake,
205 Though it the Body does its Agent make,
206 And joyntly with it Servile Labour bear,
207 For Things, alas, in which it cannot share.
208 Surveigh the Land and Sea by Heavens embrac't,
209 Thou'lt find no sweet th'Immortal Soul can tast:
210 Why dost thou then, O Man! thy self torment
211 Good here to gain, or Evils to prevent?
212 Who only Miserable or Happy art,
213 As thou neglects, or wisely act'st thy Part.
214 For shame then rouse thy self as from a Sleep,
215 The long neglected Reins let Reason keep,
216 The Charret mount, and use both Lash and Bit,
217 Nobly resolve, and thou wilt firmly sit:
218 Fierce Anger, boggling Fear, Pride prauncing still,
219 Bound-hating Hope, Desire which nought can fill,
220 Are stubborn all, but thou may'st give them Law;
221 Th'are hard-Mouth'd Horses, but they well can draw.
222 Lash on, and the well govern'd Charret drive,
223 Till thou a Victor at the Goal arrrive,
224 Where the free Soul does all her burden leave,
225 And Joys commensurate to her self receive.