Stanza 11

Lines 121-128

Speak thou, whose thoughts at humble peace repine,
Shall Wolsey's wealth, with Wolsey's end, be thine?
Or liv'st thou now, with safer pride content,
The wisest justice on the banks of Trent?
For why did Wolsey, near the steeps of Fate,
On weak foundations raise th' enormous weight?
Why but to sink beneath misfortune's blow,
With louder ruin, to the gulfs below?

  • Here the speaker of the poem addresses the reader directly. He asks us readers whether we want Wolsey's wealth, which came at the cost of his terrible downfall. 
  • The speaker continues asking questions, suggesting that we should be content to live with less pride and more justice. He refers to the river Trent here, which is one of the big rivers in England.
  • The speaker returns to Wolsey, wondering why he tempted fate by placing the very heavy weight of his ambition on "weak foundations." The speaker uses geographic and architectural imagery here to get his point across. 
  • The geographic and architectural imagery the speaker uses here gives us yet another example of metaphor: "For why did Wolsey, near the steeps of fate,/ On weak foundations raise th' enormous weight?" 
  • Wolsey's ambition, the speaker says, only led him to the deepest depths of misfortune.

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