“Say to the court it glows and shines like rotten wood”

THE LIE
~ by Sir Walter Raleigh

Go, Soul, the body’s guest,
Upon a thankless errand.
Fear not to touch the best,
The truth shall be thy warrant.
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.

Say to the court it glows
And shines like rotten wood.
Say to the church it shows
What’s good, and doth no good.
If court and church reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates they live
Acting by others’ action,
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by a faction.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition
That manage the estate,
Their purpose is ambition,
Their practice only hate.
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave it most,
They beg for more by spending,
Who, in their greatest cost,
Seek nothing but commending.
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell zeal it wants devotion,
Tell love it is but lust,
Tell time it is but motion,
Tell flesh it is but dust.
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth,
Tell honor how it alters,
Tell beauty how she blasteth,
Tell favor how she falters.
And as they shall reply,
Give everyone the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness.
Tell wisdom she entangles
Herself in over-wiseness.
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.

Tell physic of her boldness,
Tell skill it is pretension,
Tell charity of coldness,
Tell law it is contention.
And as they do reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming.
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming.
If arts and schools reply,
Give arts and schools the lie.

Tell faith it fled the city,
Tell how the country erreth.
Tell manhood shakes off pity,
Tell virtue least preferreth.
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.

So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing–
Although to give the lie
Deserves no less than stabbing–
Stab at thee, he that will,
No stab the soul can kill.

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Author: MDM

Michael Dennis Mooney is a student of humor and witticism in verse. At this site he is compiling a selection of the best works using extended metaphor in poetry, with a special interest in satire, parody, and humor. Suggestions are welcome. Send your citations of favorites, by email, to mike.mooney.home@gmail.com He has a site "New Writings" at http://jcbcast.blogspot.com And a site for essays, 'His Epistles To The Philistines" at http://tothephilistines.wordpress.com

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