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The Pleasure of Princes

by
 What pleasures have great princes? These: to know 
Themselves reputed mad with pride or power; 
To speak few words -- few words and short bring low 
This ancient house, that city with flame devour;

To make old men, their father's enemies,
Drunk on the vintage of the former age;
To have great painters show their mistresses
Naked to the succeeding time; engage

The cunning of able, treacherous ministers 
To serve, despite themselves, the cause they hate, 
And leave a prosperous kingdom to their heirs 
Nursed by the caterpillars of the state;

To keep their spies in good men's hearts; to read 
The malice of the wise, and act betimes; 
To hear the Grand Remonstrances of greed 
Led by the pure; cheat justice of her crimes;

To beget worthless sons and, being old,
By starlight climb the battlements, and while
The pacing sentry hugs himself for cold,
Keep vigil like a lover, muse and smile,

And think, to see from the grim castle steep 
The midnight city below rejoice and shine: 
"There my great demon grumbles in his sleep 
And dreams of his destruction, and of mine.
"

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