‘Tis true, our life is but a long disease,
Made up of real pain and seeming ease;
You stars, who these entangled fortunes give,
O tell me why
It is so hard to die,
Yet such a task to live?
If with some pleasure we our griefs betray,
It costs us dearer than it can repay:
For time or fortune all things so devours;
Our hopes are cross’d,
Or else the object lost,
Ere we can call it ours.
Katherine Philips, To my Lord Biron’s Tune of ‘Adieu Phillis’, 1667.
When I consider life, ’tis all a cheat;
Yet, fooled with hope, men favour the deceit;
Trust on, and think tomorrow will repay;
Tomorrow’s falser than the former day;
Lies worse, and while it says we shall be blessed
With some new joys, cuts off what we possessed.
Strange cozenage! None would live past years again,
Yet all hope pleasure in what yet remain;
And from the dregs of life think to receive
What the first sprightly running could not give.
I’m tired of waiting for this chemic gold,
Which fools us young and beggars us when old.
John Dryden, from Aureng-Zebe.