MY mind to me a kingdom is;
Such perfect joy therein I find
As far exceeds all earthly blisse
That God or Nature hath assigned;
Though much I want that most would have, 5
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
Content I live; this is my stay—
I seek no more than may suffice.
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look, what I lack my mind supplies. 10
Lo! thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.
I see how plentie surfeits oft,
And hasty climbers soonest fall;
I see that such as sit aloft 15
Mishap doth threaten most of all.
These get with toil, and keep with fear;
Such cares my mind could never bear.
No princely pomp nor wealthy store,
No force to win the victory, 20
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to win a lover’s eye—
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why, my mind despiseth all.
Some have too much, yet still they crave; 25
I little have, yet seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have;
And I am rich with little store.
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I lend; they pine, I live. 30
I laugh not at another’s loss,
I grudge not at another’s gaine;
No worldly wave my mind can toss;
I brook that is another’s bane.
I feare no foe, nor fawn on friend; 35
I loathe not life, nor dread mine end.
I joy not in no earthly blisse;
I weigh not Crœsus’ wealth a straw;
For care, I care not what it is;
I fear not fortune’s fatal law; 40
My mind is such as may not move
For beauty bright, or force of love.
I wish but what I have at will;
I wander not to seek for more;
I like the plain, I climb no hill; 45
In greatest storms I sit on shore,
And laugh at them that toil in vain
To get what must be lost again.
I kisse not where I wish to kill;
I feign not love where most I hate; 50
I break no sleep to win my will;
I wait not at the mighty’s gate.
I scorn no poor, I fear no rich;
I feel no want, nor have too much.
The court nor cart I like nor loathe; 55
Extremes are counted worst of all;
The golden mean betwixt them both
Doth surest sit, and fears no fall;
This is my choyce; for why, I find
No wealth is like a quiet mind. 60
My wealth is health and perfect ease;
My conscience clear my chief defence;
I never seek by bribes to please,
Nor by desert to give offence.
Thus do I live, thus will I die; 65
Would all did so as well as I!
Authorship Note: — Authorship of this poem has undergone some debate. It is mostly attributed to Sir Edward Dyer, however some researchers have attributed it to Sir Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. It was first published in modified form in 1588 in William Byrd, Psalms, Sonnets, and Songs of Sadness and Piety.