JOHN OF GAUNT
All places that the eye of heaven visits
Are to a wise man ports and happy havens.
Teach thy necessity to reason thus;
There is no virtue like necessity.
280Think not the king did banish thee,
But thou the king. Woe doth the heavier sit,
Where it perceives it is but faintly borne.
Go, say I sent thee forth to purchase honour
And not the king exiled thee; or suppose
285Devouring pestilence hangs in our air
And thou art flying to a fresher clime:
Look what thy soul holds dear, imagine it
To lie that way thou go’st, not whence thou comest:
Suppose the singing birds musicians,
290The grass whereon thou tread’st the presence strew’d,
The flowers fair ladies, and thy steps no more
Than a delightful measure or a dance;
For gnarling sorrow hath less power to bite
The man that mocks at it and sets it light.
JOHN OF GAUNT
A wise man knows that anywhere heaven looks down upon is a refuge. Force yourself to think this way, because you have to. Don’t think that the king banished you but rather that you are the king. Sorrow weighs heaviest on those who bear it timidly. Pretend I sent you to go prove yourself, not that the king banished you. Or pretend that there is a plague here and that you are seeking a healthier place. Imagine that what you want the most can be found in the direction you are going, not the direction you’re coming from. Pretend the birds are musicians, and the flowers along your path are fair ladies, and your steps are a dance. Sorrow has no power to hurt the man who makes fun of it and who keeps a sense of humor.
295O, who can hold a fire in his hand
By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?
Or cloy the hungry edge of appetite
By bare imagination of a feast?
Or wallow naked in December snow
300By thinking on fantastic summer’s heat?
O, no! the apprehension of the good
Gives but the greater feeling to the worse:
Fell sorrow’s tooth doth never rankle more
Than when he bites, but lanceth not the sore.
Who can hold a flame by pretending that it is ice? Or satisfy hunger just by thinking about a feast? Or roll in the snow naked by imagining the heat of summer? Oh, no! Imagining the best only makes the worst harder to bear. Sorrow hurts most when you treat the pain it creates without curing the cause.