The Hermit's Exordium

by Robert Greene

Robert Greene

Here look, my son, for no vain-glorious shows

Of royal apparition for the eye:

Humble and meek befitteth men of years.

Behold my cell, built in a silent shade,

Holding content for poverty and peace;

And in my lodge is fealty and faith,

Labour and love, united in one league.

I want not, for my mind affordeth wealth;

I know not envy, for I climb not high:

Thus do I live, and thus I mean to die.

If that the world presents illusions,

Or Satan seeks to puff me up with pomp,

As man is frail and apt to follow pride;

Then see, my son, where I have in my cell

A dead man's skull, which calls this straight to mind,

That as this is, so must my ending be.

When, then, I see that earth to earth must pass,

I sigh and say, "All flesh is like to grass.—

If care to live, or sweet delight in life,

As man's desire to see out many days,

Draws me to listen to the flattering world;

Then see my glass, which swiftly out doth run,

Compar'd to man, who dies ere he begins.

This tells me, time slacks not his posting course,

But as the glass runs out with every hour,

Some in their youth, some in their weakest age,

All sure to die, but no man knows his time.

By this I think, how vain a thing is man,

Whose longest life is liken'd to a span.

When Satan seeks to sift me with his wiles,

Or proudly dares to give a fierce assault,

To make a shipwreck of my faith with fears;

Then arm'd at all points to withstand the foe,

With holy armour; here's the martial sword;

This book, this Bible, this two-edged blade,

Whose sweet content pierceth the gates of hell,

Deciphering laws and discipline of war,

To overthrow the strength of Satan's jar.

Last updated April 01, 2023