This is a poem that comments upon the mortality and inherent frailty of man and how ephemeral we are. The poem begins by questioning the belief that we are strong enough in ourselves to face the rigours of life and do not need anybody else's help. The speaker comments that you are more likely to suffer a failure or defeat if you believe yourself to be removed from the possibility of suffering a failure, and then comments on the essential truth of being human and the kind of realities we have to endure:
All flesh is frayle, and all her strength unstayd,
Like a vaine bubble blowen up with ayre:
We are all subject to the power of "devouring time" and "changeful chance," from whose ravages there is "no repair." Again Spenser returns to the truth that the person who tries to put himself above all others will fall the lowest when disaster strikes. The poem ends with a warning for those that choose to "misdeem" themselves or to see themselves in a way that does not acknowledge man's frailty and weakness. Disaster is the only ending to such a stance in life.