Poor mortals, who wait for a happy day,
Cheer up your hearts, and hear what I shall say:
If it be lawful firmly to believe
That the celestial bodies can us give
Wisdom to judge of things that are not yet;
Or if from heaven such wisdom we may get
As may with confidence make us discourse
Of years to come, their destiny and course;
I to my hearers give to understand
That this next winter, though it be at hand,
Yea and before, there shall appear a race
Of men who, loth to sit still in one place,
Shall boldly go before all people’s eyes,
Suborning men of divers qualities
To draw them unto covenants and sides,
In such a manner that, whate’er betides,
They’ll move you, if you give them ear, no doubt,
With both your friends and kindred to fall out.
They’ll make a vassal to gain-stand his lord,
And children their own parents; in a word,
All reverence shall then be banished,
No true respect to other shall be had.
They’ll say that every man should have his turn,
Both in his going forth and his return;
And hereupon there shall arise such woes,
Such jarrings, and confused to’s and fro’s,
That never were in history such coils
Set down as yet, such tumults and garboils.
Then shall you many gallant men see by
Valour stirr’d up, and youthful fervency,
Who, trusting too much in their hopeful time,
Live but a while, and perish in their prime.
Neither shall any, who this course shall run,
Leave off the race which he hath once begun,
Till they the heavens with noise by their contention
Have fill’d, and with their steps the earth’s dimension.
A Prophetical Riddle, Gargantua and Pantaguel, Rabelais