Wednesday, October 18, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Richard Barnfield

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Of all the kindes of common countrey life,
Methinkes a shepheards life is most content;
His state is quiet peace, devoyd of strife;
His thoughts are pure from all impure intent,
His pleasures rate sits at an easie rent;
He beares no mallice in his harmles hart,
Malicious meaning hath in him no part.

He is not troubled with th' afflicted minde,
His cares are onely over silly sheepe;
He is not unto jealozie inclinde,
(Thrice happie man) he knowes not how to weepe;
Whilst I the treble in deepe sorrowes keepe.
I cannot keepe the meane; for why (alas)
Griefes have no meane, though I for meane doe passe.
--
The Shepheard's Content, or the Happines of a Harmles Life.

 
Richard Barnfield

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Our minds fall very readily under the spell of such unmitigated words as Purity and Chastity. Only death beyond decay, absolute non-existence, can be Pure and Chaste. Life is impurity, fact is impure. Everything has traces of alien matter; our very health is dependent on parasitic bacteria; the purest blood in the world has a tainted ancestor, and not a saint but has evil thoughts.... This stupidity, this unreasonable idealism of the common mind, fills life to-day with cruelties and exclusions, with partial suicides and secret shames. But we are born impure, we die impure; it is a fable that spotless white lilies sprang from any saint's decay, and the chastity of a monk or nun is but introverted impurity. We have to take life valiantly on these conditions and make such honour and beauty and sympathy out of our confusions, gather such constructive experience, as we may.... Life is that, and abstinence is for the most part a mere evasion of life.

 
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For there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.

 
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From the haunts of daily life
Where is waged the daily strife
With common wants and common cares
Which sows the human heart with tares.

 
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