My Mind to Me a Kingdom is.
This excellent philosophical song appears to have been famous in the sixteenth century. It is quoted by Ben Jonson in his play of Every Man out of his Humour, first acted in 1599, act i. sc. i. where an impatient person says,
"I am no such pil'd cynique to believe
That beggery is the onely happinesse,
Or, with a number of these patient fooles,
To sing, 'My minde to me a kingdoms is,'
When the lanke hungrie belly barkes for foode."
It is here chiefly printed from a thin quarto music hook, intitled "Psalmes, Sonets, and Songs of sadnes and pietie, made into Musicke of five parts: &c. By William Byrd, one of the Gent. of the Queenes Majesties honorable Chappell. Printed by Thomas East, &c." 4to. no date: but Ames in his Typog. has mentioned another edit. of the same book, dated 1588, which I take to have been later than this.
Some improvements and an additional stanza (sc. the 5th), were had, from two other ancient copies; one of them in black-letter in the Pepys Collection, thus inscribed, "A sweet and pleasant sonet, intitled My Minde to me a Kingdom is. To the tune of In Crete," &c." Some of the stanzas in this poem were printed by Byrd separate from the rest they are here given in what seemed the most natural order.
My minde to me a kingdome is;
Such perfect joy therein I finde
As farre exceeds all earthly blisse,
That God or Nature hath assignde:
Though much I want, that most would have,
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
Content I live, this is my stay;
I seek no more than may suffice;
I presse to beare no haughtie sway;
Look what I lack my mind supplies.
Loe! thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.
I see how plentie surfets oft,
And hastie clymbers soonest fall:
I see that such as sit aloft
Mishap doth threaten most of all:
These get with toile, and keep with feare:
Such cares my mind could never beare.
No princely pompe, nor welthie store,
No force to winne the victorie,
No wylie wit to salve a sore,
No shape to winne a lovers eye;
To none of these I yeeld as thrall,
For why my mind despiseth all.
Some have too much, yet still they crave,
I little have, yet seek no more:
They are but poore, tho' much they have
And I am rich with little store:
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lacke, I lend; they pine, I live.
I laugh not at anothers losse,
I grudge not at anothers gaine;
No worldly wave my mind can tosse,
I brooke that is anothers bane:
I feare no foe, nor fawne on friend;
I lothe not life, nor dread mine end.
I joy not in no earthly blisse;
I weigh not Cresus' welth a straw;
For care, I care not what it is;
I feare not fortunes fatall law:
My mind is such as may not move
For beautie bright or force of love.
I wish but what I have at will;
I wander not to seeke for more;
I like the plaine, I clime no hill;
In greatest stormes I sitte on shore,
And laugh at them that toile in vaine
To get what must be lost againe.
I kisse not where I wish to kill;
I feigne not love where most I hate;
I breake no sleep to winne my will;
I wayte not at the mighties gate;
I scorne no poore, I feare no rich;
I feele no want, nor have too much.
The court, ne cart, I like, ne loath;
Extreames are counted worst of all:
The golden meane betwixt them both
Doth surest sit, and fears no fall:
This is my choyce, for why I finde,
No wealth is like a quiet minde.
My welth is health, and perfect ease;
My conscience clere my chiefe defence:
I never seeke by brybes to please,
Nor by desert to give offence:
Thus do I live, thus will I die;
Would all did so as well as I!