VISTAS: An awareness of a range of time, events, or subjects. A broad Mental View.

The Lie

Sir Walter Ralegh

Go, Soul, the body's guest,
Upon a thankless arrant:
Fear not to touch the best;
The truth shall be thy warrant:
Go, since I needs must die,
And give the world the lie.
Say to the court, it glows
And shines like rotten wood;
Say to the church it shows
What's good, and doth no good:
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie.

Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others' action:
Not loved unless they give,
Not strong but by affection:
If potentates reply,
Five potentates the lie.

Tell men of high condition
That manage the estate,
Their purpose in ambition,
Their practice only hate:
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell them that brave is most
They beg for more by spending,
Who, in their greatest cost,
Seek nothing but commending:
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell zeal it wants devotion,
Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it metes but motion,
Tell flesh it is but dust:
And wish them not reply
For thou must give the lie.

Tell age it daily wasteth;
Tell honour how it alters;
Tell beauty how she blasteth;
Tell favour how it falters;
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.

Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness;
Tell wisdom she entangles
Herself in over-wiseness;
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie.

Tell physic of her boldness;
Tell skill it is pretension;
Tell charity of coldness;
Tell law it is contention:
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.

Tell fortune of her blindness;
Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindness;
Tell justice of delay:
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie.

Tell arts they have no soundness,
But vary by esteeming;
Tell schools they want profoundness,
And stand too much on seeming:
If arts and schools reply,
Give arts and schools the lie.

Tell faith it's fled the city;
Tell how the country erreth;
Tell manhood shakes off pity
And virtue least preferreth:
And if they do reply,
Spare no to give the lie.

So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing
--Although to give the lie
Deserves no less than stabbing --
Stab at thee he that will.
No stab thy soul can kill.

Like Waller's "Go, Lovely Rose," "The Lie" begins as an "envoy" or "sending poem" with orders to a representative. Unlike Waller's poem, however, Ralegh's turns into a telling inventory of all that is wrong with the world - true in 1608 and still true, four centuries later.