Thomas Vaux (1510-1556)

He Renounceth All the Effects of Love

Like as the hart, that lifteth up his ears
To hear the hound that hath him in the chase,
Doth cast the wind in dangers and in fears
With flying foot to pass away apace,
So must I fly of love, the vain pursuit,
Whereof the gain is lesser than the fruit.

And I also must loathe those leering looks,
Where love doth lurk still with a subtle sleight,
With painted mocks, and inward hidden hooks,
To trap by trust that lieth not in wait—
The end whereof, assay it whoso shall,
Is sugared smart, and inward bitter gall.

And I also must fly such Circian songs
Wherewith that Circe, Ulysses did enchant;
These wily wits, I mean, with filëd tongues
That hearts of steel have power to daunt,
Whoso as hawk that stoopeth to their call
For most desert receiveth least of all.

But woe to me that first beheld those eyes,
The trap wherein I say that I was tane:
An outward salve which inward me destroys,
Whereto I run as rat unto her bane—
As to the fish sometime it doth befall
That with the bait doth swallow hook and all.

Within my breast, wherewith I daily fed
The vain repast of amorous hot desire,
With loitering lust so long that hath me fed
Till he hath brought me to the flaming fire.
In time, as Phoenix ends her care and carks,
I make the fire and burn myself with sparks.

The Aged Lover Renounceth Love

I loathe that I did love,
In youth that I thought sweet,
As time requires for my behove,
Methinks they are not meet.

My lusts they do me leave,
My fancies all be fled,
And tract of time begins to weave
Grey hairs upon my head.

For age with stealing steps
Hath clawed me with his clutch,
And lusty life away she leaps,
As there had been none such.

My Muse doth not delight
Me as she did before;
My hand and pen are not in plight
As they have been of yore.

For reason me denies
This youthly idle rhyme;
And day by day to me she cries,
“Leave off these toys in time.”

The wrinkles in my brow,
The furrows in my face,
Say, limping age will hedge him now
Where youth must give him place.

The harbinger of death,
To me I see him ride;
The cough, the cold, the gasping breath
Doth bid me to provide

A pickaxe and a spade,
And eke a shrouding sheet,
A house of clay for to be made
For such a guest most meet.

Methinks I hear the clerk
That knolls the careful knell,
And bids me leave my woeful work,
Ere nature me compel.

My keepers knit the knot
That youth did laugh to scorn,
Of me that clean shall be forgot
As I had not been born.

Thus must I youth give up,
Whose badge I long did wear;
To them I yield the wanton cup
That better may it bear.

Lo, here the baréd skull,
By whose bald sign I know
That stooping age away shall pull
Which youthful years did sow.

For beauty with her band
These crooked cares hath wrought,
And shippéd me into the land
From whence I first was brought.

And ye that bide behind,
Have ye none other trust:
As ye of clay were cast by kind,
So shall ye waste to dust.