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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Elizabethan Verse. 1907.

A Song for Priests

Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (1554–1628)

O WEARISOME condition of humanity!

Born under one law, to another bound;

Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity;

Created sick, commanded to be sound:

—What meaneth Nature by these diverse laws?

Passion and Reason self-division cause.

Is it the mark or majesty of power

To make offences that it may forgive?

Nature herself doth her own self deflower,

To hate those errors she herself doth give.

But how should Man think that he may not do,

If Nature did not fail and punish too?

Tyrant to others, to herself unjust,

Only commands things difficult and hard.

Forbids us all things which it knows we lust;

Makes easy pains, impossible reward.

If Nature did not take delight in blood,

She would have made more easy ways to good.

We that are bound by vows, and by promotion,

With pomp of holy sacrifice and rites,

To lead belief in good and ’stil devotion.

To preach of heaven’s wonders and delights;

Yet when each of us in his own heart looks,

He finds the God there far unlike his books.