Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Henry Vaughan (1622–1695)

The World

THOU art not Truth! for he that tries
Shall find thee all deceit and lies.
Thou art not Friendship! for in thee
’Tis but the bait of policy;
Which like a viper lodged in flowers        5
Its venom through that sweetness pours.
And when not so, then always ’tis
A fading paint, the short-lived bliss
Of air and humour, out and in,
Like colours in a dolphin’s skin.        10
Thou art not riches! for that trash,
Which one age hoards, the next doth wash
And so severely sweep away,
That few remember where it lay.
So rapid streams the wealthy land        15
About them have at their command,
And shifting channels here restore,
There break down what they bank’d before.
Thou art not Honour! for those gay
Feathers will wear and drop away;        20
And princes to some upstart line
Give new ones that are full as fine.
Thou art not Pleasure! For thy rose
Upon a thorn doth still repose,
Which, if not cropt, will quickly shed,        25
But soon as cropt grows dull and dead.
  Thou art the sand which fills one glass,
And then doth to another pass;
And could I put thee to a stay,
Thou art but dust. Then go thy way,        30
And leave me clean and bright though poor;
Who stops thee doth but daub his floor;
And, swallow-like, when he hath done,
To unknown dwellings must be gone.