Wednesday, June 22, 2011

She Runneth Loose and Turneth Where She List

To Them Who Seek Fortune
by Sir Thomas More

Whoso delighteth to proven and assay
Of wavering Fortune the uncertain lot,
If that the answer please you not alway
Blame you not me, for I command you not
Fortune to trust; and eke full well you wot
I have of her no bridle in my fist,
She runneth loose and turneth where she list.

The rolling dice in which your luck doth stand,
With whose unhappy chance you be so wroth,
You know yourself came never in my hand.
Lo in this pond be fish and frogs they both,
Cast in your net, but be you lief or loath,
Hold you content as Fortune list assign
For it is your own fishing and not mine.

And though in one chance Fortune you offend,
Grudge not thereat but bear a merry face,
In many another she shall it amend.
There is no man so far out of her grace
But he sometime hath comfort and solace;
Nor none again so farforth in her favour
That is full satisfied with her behaviour.

Fortune is stately, solemn, proud, and high,
And riches giv'th to have service therefore.
The needy beggar catch'th an halfpenny,
Some man a thousand pounds, some less, some more.
But for all that she keepeth ever in store,
From ev'ry man some parcel of his will,
That he may pray therefore and serve her still.

Some man hath good but children hath he none,
Some man hath both but he can get none health,
Some hath all three, but up to honour's throne
Can he not creep by no manner of stealth.
To some she sendeth children, riches, wealth,
Honour, worship, and rev'rence all his life,
But yet she pincheth him with a shrew'd wife.

Then forasmuch as it is Fortune's guise
To grant no man all things that he will aks,
But, as herself list order and devise,
Doth ev'ry man his part divide and tax;
I counsel ye, each one truss-up your packs
And take nothing at all, or be content
With such reward as Fortune hath you sent.

All things which in this book that you shall read,
Do as you list, there shall no man you bind
Them to believe as surely as your creed,
But notwithstanding certes in my mind
I durst well swear, 's true you shall them find
In every point each answer by and by
As are the judgments of astronomy.

Today is the feast day of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, so it seems appropriate to put up some poetry from the former. I like the fishing imagery in the second stanza, but the fifth stanza is, I think, the strongest in the poem.

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