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Passing of the Claimant

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my goodes is but vain hope of gain.
The day is fled, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done!

My Spring is past, and yet it is not sprung,
The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,
My youth is past, and yet I am but young,
I saw the world, and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done!

I sought for death, and found it in the wombe,
I lookt for life, and yet it was a shade,
I trade the ground and knew it was my tombe,
And now I dye, and now I am but made,
The glass is full, and yet my glass is run;
And now I live, and now my life is done!

- Chidiock Ticheborne, 1586

Anthem: Passing of the Claimant was written in Summer, 1994 in honour of my friend Toby Jackman's seventieth birthday.

The text is Prof. Jackman's favourite poem. It's by Chidiock Tichebourne, a young English Catholic who became involved in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth I. He wrote the poem in 1586 on the night before he was executed for treason.