The Vanity of the World

Francis Quarles

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-advisèd ear regards
What earth can say?
Thy words are gold, but thy regards
Are painted clay:

Thy 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 mean 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.

Home :: Poetry :: Protest (5) :: The Vanity of the World