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THE SHORTNESS OF LIFE.
And what's a life? A weary pilgrimage,
Whose glory in one day doth fill the stage
With childhood, manhood, and decrepit age.
And what's a life? The flourishing array
Of the proud summer-meadow, which to-day
Wears her green plush, and is to morrow hay.
Read on this dial how the shades devour
My short-lived winter's day! hour eats up hour;
Alas! the total's but from eight to four.
Behold these lilies which thy hands have made,
Fair copies of my life,
laid To view, how soon they droop, how soon they fade!
Shade not that dial, night will blind too soon;
My nonag’d day already points to noon
How simple is my suit! how small my boon!
Nor do I beg this slender inch to wile
The time away or falsely to beguile
My thoughts with joy : here's nothing worth a smile.
TIME's an hand's-breadth ; 'tis a tale;
'Tis a vessel under sail ;
'Tis an eagle in its way,
Darting down upon its prey;
'Tis an arrow in its flight,
Mocking the pursuing sight;
'Tis a short-liv'd fading flow'r;
'Tis a rainbow on a show'r;
'Tis a momentary ray,
Smiling in a winter's day;
'Tis a torrent's rapid stream;
'Tis a shadow; 'tis a dream ;
'Tis the closing watch of night,
Dying at the rising light;
'Tis a bubble ; 'tis a sigh;
Be prepar'd, O man, to die.
Born, 1593; Died, 1632.
Sweet peace, where dost thou dwell? I humbly crave
Let me once know.
I sought thee in a secret cave,
And ask'd if peace were there,
A hollow wind did seem to answer, “No!
Go seek elsewhere."
I did ;-and going, did a rainbow note:
Surely, thought I,
This is the lace of peace's coat:
I will search out the matter,
But while I look’d, the clouds immediately
Did break and scatter.
Then I went to a garden, and did spy
A gallant flower,
The crown imperial. “ Sure,” said I,
“ Peace at the root must dwell.”
But when I digg’d, I saw a worm devour
What show'd so well.
At length I met a reverend good old man;
Whom when for peace
I did demand, he thus began:
“ There was a prince of old
At Salem dwelt, who liv'd with good increase
Of Hock and fold.
“ He sweetly lived; yet sweetness did not save
His life from foes.
But after death out of his grave
There sprang twelve stalks of wheat;
Which many wond'ring at, got some of those
To plant and set.
“It prosper'd strangely, and did soon disperse
Through all the earth;
For they that taste it do rehearse,
That virtues lie therein;
A secret virtue, bringing peace and mirth,
By flight of sin.
“ Take of this grain which in my garden grows,
And grows for you :
Make bread of it; and that repose
And peace which everywhere
With so much earnestness you
pursue, Is only there."
I MADE a posy, while the day ran by :
“Here will I smell my remnant out, and tie
My life within this band.”
But time did beckon to the flowers, and they
By noon most cunningly did steal away,
And wither'd in
My hand was next to them, and then my heart.
I took, without more thinking, in good part,
Time's gentle admonition:
Who did so sweetly death's sad taste convey,
Making my mind to smell my fatal day,
Yet sug'ring the suspicion.
Farewell, dear flow'rs! sweetly your time ye spent;
Fit, while ye liv'd, for smell or ornament:
And, after death, for cures.
I follow straight, without complaints or grief;
Since, if my scent be good, I care not if
It be as short as yours.
BORN, 1594; DIED, 1666.
DEATH'S FINAL CONQUEST.
THE glories of our birth and state,
Are shadows, not substantial things;
There is no armour against fate:
Death lays his icy hands on kings;
Sceptre and crown,
Must tumble down,
And in the dust be equal made
With the poor crooked scythe and spade.
Some men with swords may reap the field,
And plant fresh laurels where they kill;
But their strong nerves at last must yield,
They tame but one another still:
Early or late,
They stoop to fate,
And must give up their murmuring breath,
When they, pale captives, creep to death.
The garlands wither on your brow,
Then boast no more your mighty deeds;
Upon death's purple altar, now,
See where the victor victim bleeds:
All heads must come
To the cold tomb,
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.
SOLILOQUY ON DEATH.
I HAVE not lived
After the rate to fear another world.
We come from nothing into life, a time
We measure with a short breath, and that often
Made tedious too, with our own cares that fill it,
Which like so many atoms in a sunbeam,
But crowd and jostle one another. All,
From the adored purple to the haircloth,
Must centre in a shade; and they that have
Their virtues to wait on them, bravely mock
The rugged storms that so much fright them here,
When their soul's launeh'd by death into a sea
That's ever calm.
DATE OF BIRTH UNCERTAIN; DIED ABOUT 1650.
HYMN TO THE NATIVITY.
GLOOMY night embrac'd the place
Where the noble infant lay ;
The babe look'd up and show'd his face-
In spite of darkness it was day.
We saw thee in thy balmy nest
Bright dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from the east,
And chase-the-trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
We saw thee by thine own sweet light.
She sings thy tears asleep, and dips
Her kisses in thy weeping eye ;
She spreads the red leaves of thy lips,
That in their buds yet blushing lie.