ULYSSES: Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,A great-sized monster of ingratitudes.
Those scraps are good deeds past, which are devouredAs fast as they are made, forgot as soonAs done. Perseverance, dear my lord,Keeps honor bright; to have done, is to hangQuite out of fashion, like a rusty mailIn monumental mock’ry. Take the instant way;For honor travels in a strait so narrowWhere one but goes abreast. Keep, then, the path;For emulation hath a thousand sonsThat one by one pursue.
If you give way,Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,Like to an ent’red tide they all rush byAnd leave you hindmost; Then what they do in present,Though less than yours in past, must o’ertop yours;For time is like fashionable host,That slightly shakes his parting guest by th’ hand,And with his arms outstretched, as he would fly,Grasps in the comer. The welcome ever smiles,And farewell goes out sighing. Let not virtue seekRemuneration for the thing it was.
For beauty, wit,High birth, vigor of bone, desert in service,Love, friendship, charity, are subjects allTo envious and calumniating time.One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,That all with one consent praise new-born gawds,Though they are made and moulded of things past,And give to dust that is a little giltMore laud than gilt o’er-dusted.The present eye praises the present object.Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;Since things in motion sooner catch the eyeThat what not stirs.
The cry went once on thee,And still it might, and yet it may again,If thou wouldst not entomb thyself aliveAnd case thy reputation in thy tent;Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late,Made emulous missions ‘mongst the gods themselvesAnd drave great Mars to faction.