Fenc’d by these rebel pow’rs that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body’s end?
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there’s no more dying then.
Select an Answer
In the context of the poem, “Painting thy outward walls so costly gay” (line 4) refers to
attending to physical appearances
pretending to be happy
preparations for a celebration
Choice (C) is correct. At the beginning of the poem, the speaker addresses his or her soul (“Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth”), and asks why the soul is “Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?” The “outward walls” of the soul refer to the speaker’s physical body, which is being adorned in an expensive and showy manner (“so costly gay”). Lines 3-4 of the poem ask why the soul is attending to physical appearances while neglecting the nourishment the soul needs (“pine within and suffer dearth”)—presumably from spiritual or religious sources.