Kingdomes are but Cares (attributed)

Original Text: 
Sir John Harington, "Sir John Harington to Prince Henry, 1609," Nugæ Antiquæ: Being a Miscellaneous Collection of Original Papers, in Prose and Verse; Written during the Reigns of Henry VIII. Edward VI. Queen Mary, Elizabeth, and King James, selected by Henry Harington, edited by Thomas Park (London: Vernor and Hood, and Cuthell and Martin, 1804): I, 386.DA 320 H37 Robarts Library
3Ryches are redy snares,
4And hastene to decaie.
6Wich vyce doth styll provoke;
8Powre, a smouldryng smoke.
9Who meenethe to remoofe the rocke
10Owte of the slymie mudde,
11Shall myre hymselfe, and hardlie scape
12The swellynge of the flodde.


1] The poem is written in 16th-century English, too late to be Henry VI's, but the poem may translate a Latin original by Henry. At any rate, the poem remains famous today, being in the 16th edition of Bartlett's Quotations (1992).
Sir John Harington writes to the son of James I: "My ancestor Sir James Haryington did once take prisoner, with his party, this poor Prince; for which the House of York did graunt him a parcel of lands in the northern counties, and which he was fool enough to lose again, after the battle of Bosworth ..." (I, 385); and "The verse I did mean to presente your Highnesse wyth is as doth now followe, and well suteth the temper and condition of him who made it" (I, 386). Back to Line
2] staie: stay, support. The Oxford English Dictionary reports this sense ("stay," sb. 2) only in the 16th century. Back to Line
5] pryvie pricke: secretly piercing spur (possibly quibbling on the penis and sexual pleasure, though this sense appears to be a 16th-century one). Back to Line
7] unprompt: a rare word, no in the Oxford English Dictionary, perhaps meaning "slow to come." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.