…being a poor dialogue in heroic couplets…
JAMES: I know that I’m not old enough to give
Advice on how another soul should live;
I think it past the point of modest pride
To in another passing mind confide;
I will, for all the world, neglect to say
What even strongest thoughts wish to convey;
And for the sake of all of humankind,
I’ll not let drivel dribble out my mind.
PRIDE: You’ve said this all, and yet you contradict
The dictum which you’ve set; and all of it
In giving reason to be quiet still
Does show a mighty weakness of the will.
By holding no opinion, one gives sway
To all a great deceiver might well say.
And further, in unwillingness to yield
To better thoughts that hold the wiser field,
You rob yourself and others of good words
That, lacking elocution, are not heard.
As Pride I say to you your speech has worth,
As much as any denizen of Earth.
JAMES: Be silent, pride; I’ve long abjured your kind.
PRIDE: And yet, I live in comfort in your mind.
JAMES: For all you say, I’ve little to believe
That I am subject to your foul deceit.
PRIDE: I am of you, and you are still of me,
In writing this and thinking so indeed.
Of modesty you haven’t got a whit:
We’re of one mind; we cannot, shall not split.
JAMES: In saying so you do try to do me wrong,
But I’ll not listen to your siren song.
PRIDE: I sometime spoke of weakness of the will,
And in that weakness are you prideful still.
You claim to know of nothing fit to share,
Yet with your self-lov’d words you fill the air.
In saying that you’ve naught the world to give,
You give the lie, and, lying, still shall live.
Proclaiming humbleness is oldest trick
Of greatest liars, proudest men, Old Nick.
JAMES: I say I’ve nothing, and I will not speak
To that which calls me anything but meek.
PRIDE: Yet once each day, and more when you’re most full
Of sinful old pretense, your thoughts you spill.
Your write as though you’ve worth to give, you know,
And in that do your ling’ring pride well show.
Admit it now, and ‘scape the mortal sin
Of falsehood to yourself, your friends and kin.
JAMES: Again I say I cannot give advice
Or wisdom, goodly courage, nothing nice.
In saying so I don’t admit to pride;
In saying so, I’ve nothing still to hide.
PRIDE: You write a dialogue giving me speech,
The very soul of pride yourself to teach.
Admit shortcoming, brace for weighing scales;
Do all but fight against with tooth and nail.
I am of you. Can that you still deny?
JAMES: For lying, I would all your kind would die
In me and in all souls upon this Earth,
To rid the world of false pretending worth.
PRIDE: With ev’ry word, you prove your lasting fall
Upon the battlements of Pride’s strong walls.
The neck will break, the more to give you leave
To speak alone, and nothing more but breathe.
I’ve made my case, and if you’ll not admit
To holding me as bosom friend, think it
Another fall, a word against the wise,
And to yourself the greatest of all lies.
JAMES: Shall I with double tongue confess my fault?
Shall venom’d daggers twain come steal my all?
I’ll none of this, the more that you do speak,
In sickness do I see myself as weak
And lacking in the modesty I’ve claimed.
Then so it is, I am most prideful vain.
If this confession drives you out my mind
I’d think for all the world the world is kind.
PRIDE: A good confession, were it passing true.
And you believed it, I’d no more to do.
But leave you I with promise to return
Before you in your falsehood duly burn.
JAMES: O this is rank, and yet he plants some doubts.
That I have pretense, pride, all manner out
Returning niggling worries in my thoughts
That I would rather much have been forgot.
I’m what he says, and that I can’t deny;
I’m prideful, boastful, and I’m wont to lie.
Becoming modesty is not my strength,
Though I protest it held by me at length,
And so in parting must I say in truth
That I, of all, subject me to abuse,
Denying part of me that lingers still
And in its very being does me ill.