(Poem by Margaret Cavendish, Poems and Fancies, 1653, spelling modernized by me)
In Gardens sweet, each Flower mark did I,
How they did spring, bud, blow, wither, and die.
With that, contemplating Man’s short stay,
Saw Man like to those Flowers pass away.
Yet build Houses, thick, and strong, and high,
As if they should live unto eternity.
Hoard up a Mass of Wealth, yet cannot fill
His Empty Mind, but covet he will still.
To gain, or keep such Falsehood Men do use,
Wrong Right, and Trurh, no base ways will refuse.
I would not blame them, could they Death out keep,
Or ease their Pains, or cause a quiet Sleep.
Or Buy Heaven’s Mansions, so like Gods become,
And by it, rule the Stars, the Moon, and Sun.
Command the Winds to blow, Seas to obey,
To level all their waves, to cause the Winds to stay.
But they no power have, unless to die,
And Care in Life is a great Misery.
This Care is for a word, an empty sound,
Which neither Soul nor Substance in is found.
Yet as their Heir, they make to inherit,
And all they have, they leave unto this Spirit.
To get this Child of Fame, and this Bare Word,
They fear no Dangers, neither Fire, nor Sword.
All horrid Pains, and Death they will endure,
Or anything that can but Fame procure.
O Man, O Man, what high Ambition grows,
Within your brain, and yet how low he goes!
To be contented only in a Sound,
where neither Life, nor Body can be found.