Ay me, ay me, I sigh to see the scythe a-field;
Down goeth the grass, soon wrought to wither'd hay:
Ay me, alas! ay me, alas, that beauty needs must yield,
And princes pass, as grass doth fade away.
Ay me, ay me, that life can not have lasting leave,
Nor gold take hold of everlasting joy:
Ay me, alas! ay me, alas, that time hath talents to receive,
And yet no time can make a suer stay.
Ay me, ay me, that wit can not have wished choice,
Nor wish can win that will desires to see:
Ay me, alas! ay me, alas, that mirth can promise no rejoice,
Nor study tell what afterward shall be.
Ay me, ay me, that no sure staff is given to age,
Nor age can give sure wit that youth will take:
Ay me, alas! ay me, alas, that no counsel wise and sage
Will shun the show that all doth mar and make.
Ay me, ay me, come, Time, shear on and shake thy hay,
It is no boot to balk thy bitter blows:
Ay me, alas! ay me, alas, come, Time, take everything away,
For all is thine, be it good or bad, that grows.