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
The poet signals a major shift at line 9 by changing from
entirely negative to entirely positive imagery
imagery of permanence to imagery of change
direct address to impersonal statement
material to spiritual imagery
questions to commands
Choice (E) is correct. The first eight lines of the poem feature four consecutive questions. The speaker is essentially asking the soul why so much attention is being paid to the body (“thy outward walls,” “thy fading mansion”), which is only going to die and be consumed by worms (“Is this thy body’s end?”). In other words, the speaker is asking why the immortal soul is sacrificing its needs in favor of those of the “sinful” and dying body. The speaker’s questions are rhetorical; he or she is using the questions to subtly make the point that spiritual concerns should be emphasized over material things. This point is made more explicit at line 9, when the speaker turns to commands: “Then, soul, live thou upon thy servant’s loss,/And let that pine to aggravate thy store . . .” The speaker is commanding the soul to let the body wither and die, knowing that the soul is all that matters in the afterlife (“there’s no more dying then”).