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Sir Walter Raleigh

The Lye

Goe, soule, the bodie's guest,

Upon a thanklesse arrant;

Feare not to touche the best—

The truth shall be thy warrant!

Goe, since I needs must dye,

And give the world the lye.

Goe tell the court it glowes

And shines like rotten wood;

Goe tell the church it showes

What's good, and doth no good;

If church and court reply,

Then give them both the lye.

Tell potentates they live

Acting by others' actions—

Not loved unlesse they give,

Not strong but by their factions;

If potentates reply,

Give potentates the lye.

Tell men of high condition,

That rule affairs of state,

Their purpose is ambition,

Their practice only hate;

And if they once reply,

Then give them all the lye.

Tell zeale it lacks devotion;

Tell love it is but lust;

Tell time it is but motion;

Tell flesh it is but dust;

And wish them not reply,

For thou must give the lye.

Tell wit how much it wrangles

In tickle points of nicenesse;

Tell wisdome she entangles

Herselfe in over-wisenesse;

And if they do reply,

Straight give them both the lye.

Tell physicke of her boldnesse;

Tell skill it is pretension;

Tell charity of coldnesse;

Tell law it is contention;

And as they yield reply,

So give them still the lye.

Tell fortune of her blindnesse;

Tell nature of decay;

Tell friendship of unkindnesse;

Tell justice of delay;

And if they dare reply,

Then give them all the lye.

Tell arts they have no soundnesse,

But vary by esteeming;

Tell schooles they want profoundnesse,

And stand too much on seeming;

If arts and schooles reply,

Give arts and schooles the lye.

So, when thou hast, as I

Commanded thee, done blabbing—

Although to give the lye

Deserves no less than stabbing—

Yet stab at thee who will,

No stab the soule can kill.