Thomas Nash,
"Litany in Time of Plague"

[This text retains the spelling of the first publication. The now famous poem appeared as part of a play called Summer's Last Will and Testament, published in 1600.]

SUMMER: To wearie out the time vntill they come,
Sing me some dolefull ditty to the Lute,
That may complaine my neere approaching death.

The Song.

Adieu, farewell earths blisse,
This world vncertaine is,
Fond are lifes lustfull ioyes,
Death proues them all but toyes,
None from his darts can flye;
I am sick, I must dye:
Lord, have mercy on vs.

Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Gold cannot buy you health;
Phisick himselfe must fade.
All things to end are made,
The plague full swift goes bye;
I am sick, I must dye;
Lord, have mercy on vs.

Beautie is but a flowre,
Which wrinckles will deuoure,
Brightnesse falls from the ayre,
Queenes haue died yong and faire,
Dust hath closde Helens eye.
I am sick, I must dye:
Lord, have mercy on vs.

Strength stoopes vnto the graue,
Wormes feed on Hector braue,
Swords may not fight with fate,
Earth still holds ope her gate.
Come, come, the bells do crye.
I am sicke, I must dye:
Lord, have mercy on vs.

Wit with his wantonnesse
Tasteth deaths bitternesse:
Hels executioner
Hath no eares for to heare
What vaine art can reply.
I am sicke, I must dye:
Lord, have mercy on vs.

Haste therefore eche degree,
To welcome destiny:
Heauen is our heritage,
Earth but a players stage,
Mount wee vnto the sky.
I am sicke, I must dye:
Lord, have mercy on vs.


SUMMER: Beshrew mee, but thy song hath moued mee.
WILL SUMMER: Lord, haue mercy on vs, how lamentable 'tis!


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    03/31/96


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