The Lye

Goe, soule, the bodie's guest,
  Upon a thanklesse arrant;
Feare not to touche the best--
  The truth shall be thy warrant!
Goe, since I needs must dye,
And give the world the lye.

Goe tell the court it glowes
  And shines like rotten wood;
Goe tell the church it showes
  What's good, and doth no good;
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lye.

Tell potentates they live
  Acting by others' actions--
Not loved unlesse they give,
  Not strong but by their factions;
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lye.

Tell men of high condition,
  That rule affairs of state,
Their purpose is ambition,
  Their practice only hate;
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lye.

Tell zeale it lacks devotion;
  Tell love it is but lust;
Tell time it is but motion;
  Tell flesh it is but dust;
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lye.

Tell wit how much it wrangles
  In tickle points of nicenesse;
Tell wisdome she entangles
  Herselfe in over-wisenesse;
And if they do reply,
Straight give them both the lye.

Tell physicke of her boldnesse;
  Tell skill it is pretension;
Tell charity of coldnesse;
  Tell law it is contention;
And as they yield reply,
So give them still the lye.

Tell fortune of her blindnesse;
  Tell nature of decay;
Tell friendship of unkindnesse;
  Tell justice of delay;
And if they dare reply,
Then give them all the lye.

Tell arts they have no soundnesse,
  But vary by esteeming;
Tell schooles they want profoundnesse,
  And stand too much on seeming;
If arts and schooles reply,
Give arts and schooles the lye.

So, when thou hast, as I
  Commanded thee, done blabbing--
Although to give the lye
  Deserves no less than stabbing--
Yet stab at thee who will,
No stab the soule can kill.