How vainly men themselves amaze To win the palm, the oak, or bays; And their uncessant labours see Crown'd from some single herb or tree. Whose short and narrow verged shade Does prudently their toils upbraid; While all flow'rs and all trees do close To weave the garlands of repose.
Alas! What boots it with uncessant care To tend the homely slighted Shepherd's trade, And strictly meditate the thankless muse; Were it not better done as others use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neaera's hair? Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise (That last infirmity of noble mind) To scorn delights, and live laborious days; But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, And think to burst out into sudden blaze, Comes the blind Fury with th'abhorred shears, And slits the thin-spun life.john milton