Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

A Guiltless Heart
The man of life upright, whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds and thoughts of vanity:
The man whose silent days in harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude, nor fortune discontent;
That man needs neither towers nor armor for defense,
Nor secret vaults to fly from thunder’s violence:
He only can behold with unaffrighted eyes
The horrors of the deep and terrors of the skies;
Thus scorning all the care that fate or fortune brings,
He makes the heaven his book, his wisdom heavenly things;
Good thoughts his only friends, his wealth a well-spent age,
The earth his sober inn and quiet pilgrimage.

The world’s a bubble; and the life of man
Less than a span.
In his conception wretched; from the womb
Wo to the tomb:
Curst from the cradle, and brought up to years,
With cares and fears.
Who then to frail mortality shall trust,
But limns the water, or but writes in dust.

Yet, since with sorrow here we live oppress’d,
What life is best?
Courts are but only superficial schools
To dandle fools:
The rural parts are turn’d into a den
Of savage men:
And where’s a city from all vice so free,
But may be term’d the worst of all the three?

Domestic cares afflict the husband’s bed,
Or pains his head:
Those that live single, take it for a curse,
Or do things worse:
Some would have children; those that have them none;
Or wish them gone.
What is it then to have no wife,
But single thralldom or a double strife?

Our own affections still at home to please,
Is a disease:
To cross the sea to any foreign soil,
Perils and toil:
Wars with their noise affright us: when they cease,
We are worse in peace:
What then remains, but that we still should cry,
Not to be born, or being born, to die?