Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Now Mad, Now Merciful, Now Fierce, Now Favoring

Besides being the feast of St. Peter Damian, it's also the feast of St. Robert Southwell, who was tortured and then executed at Tyburn under Queen Elizabeth I. Southwell, besides being known as a Jesuit martyr, was also an accomplished poet.

Fortune's Falsehoode
by Robert Southwell

In worldly merymentes lurketh much misery,
Sly fortune's subtilltyes, in baytes of happynes
Shroude hookes, that swallowed without recoverye,
Murder the innocent with mortall heavynes.

Shee sootheth appetites with pleasing vanityes,
Till they be conquered with cloaked tyrannye;
Then chaunging countenance, with open enmyties
She tryumphes over them, scorninge their slavery.

With fawninge flattery deathe's dore she openeth,
Alluring passingers to blody destinye;
In offers bountifull, in proofe she beggereth,
Men's ruins registring her false felicitye.

Her hopes are fastned in blisse that vanisheth,
Her smart inherited with sure possession;
Constant in crueltye, she never altereth
But from one violence to more oppression.

To those that followe her, favours are measured,
As easie premisses to hard conclusions;
With bitter corrosives her joyes are seasoned,
Her highest benefittes are but illusions.

Her wayes a laberinth of wandring passages,
Fooles' comon pilgrimage to cursed deityes;
Whose fonde devotion and idle menages
Are wag'd with wearynes in fruitles drudgeries.

Blynde in her favorites' foolish election,
Chaunce is her arbiter in giving dignitye,
Her choyse of vicious, shewes most discretion,
Sith welth the vertuous might wrest from piety.

To humble suppliants tyran most obstinate,
She sutors answereth with contrarietyes;
Proud with peticion, untaught to mitigate
Rigour with clemencye in hardest cruelties.

Like tigre fugitive from the ambitious,
Like weeping crocodile to scornefull enymies,
Suyng for amity where she is odious,
But to her followers forswering curtesies.

No wynde so changeable, no sea so waveringe,
As giddy fortune in reeling varietyes;
Nowe madd, now mercifull, now ferce, now favoring,
In all thinges mutable but mutabilities.


  1. Brandon, I don't know why your posts don't get more comments.  This is one of the strongest philosophy blogs on the internet.

  2. Then again, perhaps Christian thought doesn't admit of much popularity these days amongst the intelligentsia.

  3. branemrys12:26 PM

    I think (1) I post so much that any discussions quickly move down the page; and (2) my posts are very diverse, so my readership doesn't have much in the way of unified interests -- some people read for the more literary things, others for the philosophy, etc. Also, probably (3) I'm somewhat inconsistent myself about cultivating comments discussions; and (4) actual arguments around here, though rare, get pretty intense, and while they've almost always been quite civil (I've only had to ban one person from commenting in the entire run of the blog, and I've only completely lost my temper myself once), I think they are also quite tiring for most of the people involved -- certainly they can be for me. But it's fine with me -- I do this mostly for myself, and the comments are just a nice bonus, and the discussions and comments when they've come have always, I think, been quite good and illuminating (even when involving vehement disagreement) compared to most blogs with more comments.


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