John Fletcher’s Moral Reasoning

The following poem by John Fletcher is one of my favourite poems written in English. It connects to me in a special way because it is based on a religious pedestal, more so these days when people are running away from religious and moral teachings. I enjoy it. Hence it is the opening tract in my collection of short stories published in 1999 titled “The Malam’s Potion.”

“Upon An Honest Man’s Fortune”

You that can look through Heav’n, and tell the stars,
observe their kind conjections, and their wars;
To those men honours, pleasure, to those ease:
You that are God’s surveyors, and can show
How far, and when, and why the wind doth blow;
Know all the charges of the dreadful thunder,
And when it will shoot over, or fall under,
Tell me, by all your art I conjure ye,
Yes, and by truth, what shall become of me?
Find out my star, if each one as you say,
Observed my fate, next fall into your dreams,
Sweep clean your houses, and new-line your schemes,
Then say your worst! Or have I none at all?
Or is it burnt out lately? Or did fall?
My star, like me, unworthy of a name?
Is it, your art can only work on those
That deal with dangers, dignities, and clothes?
With love, or new opinions? You all lie!
A fish-wife hath a fate, and so have I:
But far above your finding! He that gives,
Out of His providence, to all that lives,
And no man knows his treasure, no, not you!

JOHN FLECHER (1579-1625)

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