A Paradox, That The Sick Are In A Better Case Than The Whole

by George Herbert

George Herbert

You who admire yourselves because
You neither groan nor weep,
And think it contrary to Nature's laws
To want one ounce of sleep,
Your strong belief
Acquits yourselves, and gives the sick all grief.
Your state to ours is contrary,
That makes you think us poor,
So Black-moors think us foul, and we
Are quit with them, and more,
Nothing can see
And judge of things but mediocrity.
The sick are in themselves a state
Which health hath nought to do.
How know you that our tears proceed from woe,
And not from better fate!
Since that Mirth hath
Her waters also and desired bath.
How know you that the sighs we send
From want of breath proceed,
Not from excess? and therefore we do spend
That which we do not need ;
So trembling may
As well show inward warbling, as decay.
Cease then to judge calamities
By outward form and show,
But view yourselves, and inward turn your eyes,
Then you shall fully know
That your estate
Is, of the two, the far more desperate.
You always fear to feel those smarts
Which we but sometimes prove,
Each little comfort much affects our hearts,
None but gross joys you move ;
Why then confess
Your fears in number more, your joys are less.
Then for yourselves not us embrace
Plaints to bad fortune due,
For though you visit us, and plaint or case,
We doubt much whether you
Come to our bed
To comfort us, or to be comforted.

Last updated January 14, 2019