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Short poem

Chidiock Tichborne (ca. 1558-1586)

My Prime of Youth is but a Frost of Cares

              1My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
              2My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
              3My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
              4And all my good is but vain hope of gain.
              5The day is gone and I yet I saw no sun,
              6And now I live, and now my life is done.

              7The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,
              8The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
              9My youth is gone, and yet I am but young,
            10I saw the world, and yet I was not seen,
            11My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun,
            12And now I live, and now my life is done.

            13I sought my death and found it in my womb,
            14I lookt for life and saw it was a shade,
            15I trode the earth and knew it was my tomb,
            16And now I die, and now I am but made.
            17The glass is full, and now the glass is run,
            18And now I live, and now my life is done.


3] tares: weeds

7] "My tale was heard, and yet it was not told" (first printed version, in Verses of Prayse and Joye [1586]).

8] The: "My" (1586; twice).
dead: "falne" (1586).

9] gone: "spent" (1586).
but young: "not old" (1586).

11] The oldest of the three classical Greek fates, Atropos, cut the thread of his life with her shears before Lachesis had had an opportunity to spin out the events of his life.

16] am: "was" (1586).
but made: only just created

17] glass: hour-glass

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Bodleian Library MS Tanner 169, fol. 79r; facs. in R. S. M. Hirsh's "The Works of Chidiock Tichborne (text)," English Literary Renaissance, 16 (1986): 309-10.
First publication date: 1586
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1997.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/14

Composition date: 1586
Rhyme: ababcc

Other poems by Chidiock Tichborne