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295                                             Piping Peace

YOU virgins that did late despair
   To keep your wealth from cruel men,
Tie up in silk your careless hair:
   Soft peace is come again.
Now lovers’ eyes may gently shoot
   A flame that will not kill;
The drum was angry, but the lute
   Shall whisper what you will.
Sing Io, Io! for his sake
   That hath restored your drooping heads;
With choice of sweetest flowers make
   A garden where he treads;
Whilst we whole groves of laurel bring,
   A pretty triumph for his brow,
Who is the Master of our spring
   And all the bloom we owe.1

1 owe: own.

296                                          Death the Leveller

THE glories of our blood and state
   Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against Fate;
   Death lays his icy hand on kings:
          Sceptre and Crown
          Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crookàd scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,
   And plant fresh laurels where they kill:
But their strong nerves at last must yield;
   They tame but one another still:
          Early or late
          They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath
When they, pale captives, creep to death.

The garlands wither on your brow;
   Then boast no more your mighty deeds!
Upon Death’s purple altar now
   See where the victor-victim bleeds.
          Your heads must come
          To the cold tomb:
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.


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