Litany in Time of Plague by Thomas Nash

It is 1600. Nashe was an English playwright in the time of Shakespeare.

I don’t know if Nashe died of the plague but it does sound like he is shuffling off this mortal coil.

The bubonic plague killed tens of millions in Europe in the 13th century and reappeared at times up until the 18th century.

It was called The Black Death. Well named. Covid-19 is so weak.

Read “fond” in the third sentence as meaning “foolish.”

Litany in Time of Plague
by Thomas Nash (1567 – 1601?)

Adieu, farewell, earth’s bliss;
This world uncertain is;
Fond are life’s lustful joys;
Death proves them all but toys;
None from his darts can fly;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Gold cannot buy you health;
Physic himself must fade.
All things to end are made,
The plague full swift goes by;
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Beauty is but a flower
Which wrinkles will devour;
Brightness falls from the air;
Queens have died young and fair;
Dust hath closed Helen’s eye.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Strength stoops unto the grave,
Worms feed on Hector brave;
Swords may not fight with fate,
Earth still holds open her gate.
“Come, come!” the bells do cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Wit with his wantonness
Tasteth death’s bitterness;
Hell’s executioner
Hath no ears for to hear
What vain art can reply.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Haste, therefore, each degree,
To welcome destiny;
Heaven is our heritage,
Earth but a player’s stage;
Mount we unto the sky.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!

Bergman’s Seventh Seal. A knight returns from the Crusades to find the Black Death devastating Europe. He joins a group fleeing the plague only to meet Death himself along the way. Death challenges the knight to play chess for his life. Spoiler alert: Death likes to cheat.

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