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THOMAS MAY
English poet and historian
(1595 - 1650)

A true philosopher
  Makes death his common practice, while he lives,
    And every day by contemplation strives
      To separate the soul, far as he can,
        From off the body.
      - [Death]

For true charity
  Though ne'er so secret finds its just reward.
      - [Charity]

From our tables here, no painful surfeits,
  No fed diseases grow, to strangle nature,
    And suffocate the active brain; no fevers,
      No apoplexies, palsies or catarrhs
        Are here; where nature, not entic'd at all
          With such a dang'rous bait as pleasant cates,
            Takes in no more than she can govern well.
      - [Temperance]

Health and liberty
  Attend on these bare meals; if all were blest
    With such a temperance, what man would fawn,
      Or to his belly sell his liberty?
        There would be then no slaves, no sycophants
          At great men's tables.
      - [Temperance]

Known mischiefs have their cure; but doubts have none;
  And better is despair than fruitless hope
    Mix'd with a killing fear.
      - [Doubt]

None can describe the sweets of country life,
  But those blest men that do enjoy and taste them
    Plain husbandmen, tho' far below our pitch,
      Of fortune plac'd, enjoy a wealth above us;
        To whom the earth with true and bounteous justice,
          Free from war's cares, returns an easy food,
            They breathe the fresh and uncorrupted air,
              And by clear brooks enjoy untroubled sleeps.
                Their state is fearless and secure, enrich'd
                  With several blessings, such as greatest kings
                    Might in true justice envy, and themselves
                      Would count too happy, if they truly knew them.
      - [Country Life]

Oh sad vicissitude
  Of earthly things! to what untimely end
    Are all the fading glories that attend
      Upon the state of greatest monarchs, brought!
        What safety can by policy be wrought,
          Or rest be found on fortune's restless wheel!
      - [Vicissitudes]

Seldom is faction's ire in haughty minds
  Extinguish'd but by death: it oft like fire
    Suppress'd, breaks forth again, and blazes higher.
      - [Faction]

There, in her den, lay pompous luxury,
  Stretch'd out at length; no vice could boast such high
    And genial victories as she had won;
      Of which proud trophies there at large were shown,
        Besides small states and kingdoms ruined
          Those mighty monarchies that had o'erspread
            The spacious earth, and stretch'd their conquering arms
              From pole to pole, by her ensnaring charms
                Were quite consum'd; there lay imperial Rome,
                  That vanquish'd all the world, by her o'ercome;
                    Fetter'd was th' old Assyrian lion there;
                      The Grecian leopard, and the Persian bear;
                        With others numberless, lamenting by,
                          Examples of the power of luxury.
      - [Luxury]

With riotous banquets, sicknesses came in,
  When death 'gan muster all his dismal band
    Of pale diseases.
      - [Temperance]


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