Wolsey’s Farewell to His Greatness
(1613) by John Fletcher
Farewell! a long farewell, to all my greatness! This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms, And bears his blushing honours thick upon him; The third day comes a frost, a killing frost, And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely His greatness is a-ripening, nips his root, And then he falls, as I do. I have ventured, Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders, This many summers in a sea of glory, But far beyond my depth: my high-blown pride At length broke under me and now has left me, Weary and old with service, to the mercy Of a rude stream, that must forever hide me. Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye: I feel my heart new opened. O, how wretched Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favours! There is betwixt that smile we would aspire to, That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin, More pangs and fears than wars or women have: And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer, Never to hope again.