Original Text

Modern Text

Were’t ought to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honoring,
Or laid great bases for eternity,
Which prove more short than waste or ruining?
Have I not seen dwellers on form and favor
Lose all and more by paying too much rent,
For compound sweet forgoing simple savor,
Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent?
No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art,
But mutual render, only me for thee.
  Hence, thou suborned informer! A true soul
  When most impeached stands least in thy control.
Would it matter at all to me to carry the ceremonial canopy of a monarch in a procession, honoring the display of power with my appearance? Or would I think it worthwhile to lay the foundations of supposedly eternal monuments, which actually last only as long as decay or ruin permit? Haven’t I seen those who focus on appearances and covet the favors of the powerful lose everything, and more than everything, by spending too much on their obsessions? Such pitiful strivers give up simple pleasures for the sake of lavish meals, using up all their resources on their fickle desires. No, I shall be obedient and faithful to you only, and you shall accept my offering. It is simple but freely given, contains nothing second-rate, no unnecessary additions, only mutual surrender: myself for yourself. Get out of here, you

paid spy

The “suborned informer” (paid spy) whom the speaker addresses in the last sentence is mysterious. Editors are unsure whom this figure is supposed to represent.

paid spy
: When a faithful person like I am is accused, someone like you has no power over them.

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