Idle or Else but Seldom Busied Best by Thomas Heneage

Idle or else but seldom busied best,
In court, my Lord, we lead the vainest life,
Where hopes with fears, where joys with sorrows rest,
But faith is rare, though fairest words be rife.

Here learn we vice and look on virtue’s books;
Here fine deceit we hold for courtly skill.
Our care is here to wait on words and looks
And greatest work to follow others’ will.

Here scorn a grace, and pride, is present thought.
Malice but might, and foulest shifts no shame,
Lust but delight, and plainest dealing nought
Where flatt’ry likes and truth bears oftest blame.

Yet is the cause not in the place, I find,
But all the fault is in the faulty mind.

From: Dodsworth, Martin (ed.), Walter Ralegh: The Poems, with Other Verse from the Court of Elizabeth I, 2012, Phoenix, London, p. 55.

Date: c1580

By: Thomas Heneage (1532-1595)


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