Download document


The Tragedy of the Duchess of Malfi

What's this flesh? A little cruded milk
Fantastical puff-paste. Our bodies are weaker than those
Paper prisons boys use to keep flies in; more contemptible,
Since our is to preserve earth-worms. Didst thou ever seen
A lark in a cage? Such is the soul in the body: this world
Is like her little turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads
Like her looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge
Of the small compass of our prison.

Death Song

Hark, now everything is still;

The screech-owl and the whistler shrill

Call upon our dame aloud,

And bid her quickly don her shroud;

Much you had of land and rent,

Your length in clay's now competent.

A long war disturbed your mind;

Here your perfect peace is signed.

Of what is't fools make such vain keeping?

Sin their conception, their birth weeping,

Their life a general mist of error,

Their death a hideous storm of terror.

Strew your hair with powders sweet,

Don clean linen, bathe your feet,

And the foul fiend more to check -

A crucifix let bless your neck;

'Tis now full tide 'tween night and day,

End your groan and come away.

The Madman’s Song

Oh, let us howl some heavy note,

Some deadly-dogged howl,

Sounding as from the threatening throat

Of beasts and fatal fowl!

As ravens, screech-owls, bulls, and bears,

We'll bell, and bawl our parts,

Till irksome noise have cloyed your ears

And corrosived your hearts.

At last, whenas our quire wants breath,

Our bodies being blest,

We'll sing like swans to welcome death,

And die in love and rest.

The Devil’s Law Case

Vanitas Vanitatum

All the flowers of the spring

Meet to perfume our burying;

These have but their growing prime,

And man does flourish but his time:

Survey our progress from our birth;

We are set, we grow, we turn to earth.

Courts adieu, and all delights,

All bewitching appetites!

Sweetest breath and clearest eye,

Like perfumes, go out and die;

And consequently this is done

As shadows wait upon the sun.

Vain ambition of kings

Who seek by trophies and dead things

To leave a living name behind,

And weave but nets to catch the wind.

The White Devil

Call for the robin-redbreast

Call for the robin-redbreast and the wren,

Since o'er shady groves they hover

And with leaves and flowers do cover

The friendless bodies of unburied men.

Call unto his funeral dole

The ant, the field-mouse, and the mole,

To rear him hillocks that shall keep him warm

And, when gay tombs are robb'd, sustain no harm;

But keep the wolf far thence, that's foe to men,

For with his nails he'll dig them up again.

Let holy Church receive him duly,

Since he paid the church-tithes truly.



Whether I resolve to fire, earth, water, air,

Or all the elements by scruples, I know not,

Nor greatly care. - Shoot. Shoot!

Of all deaths, the violent death is best;

For from ourselves it steals ourselves so fast,

The pain, once apprehended, is quite past.



Right! There are plots.

Your beauty! Oh, ten thousand curses on 't!

How long have I beheld the devil in crystal!

Thou hast led me, like an heathen sacrifice,

With music, and with fatal yokes of flowers,

To my eternal ruin. Woman to man

Is either a god, or a wolf.