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

Vanitas Vanitatum

John Webster (c. 1580–1634)

ALL the flowers of the spring

Meet to perfume our burying;

These have but their growing prime,

And man does flourish but his time:

Survey our progress from our birth—

We are set, we grow, we turn to earth.

Courts adieu, and all delights,

All bewitching appetites!

Sweetest breath and clearest eye

Like perfumes go out and die;

And consequently this is done

As shadows wait upon the sun.

Vain the ambition of kings

Who seek by trophies and dead things

To leave a living name behind,

And weave but nets to catch the wind.