My soul, why art thou sad at the decay
Of this frail
frame, this feeble house of
What can be expected from the humble birth
frail fabric, but to fall to earth?
The bubbling fountain, being by nature led,
rise no higher than her crystal head;
Though many marble aqueducts it fill,
Yet in a constant level it runs still.
So mortal man, even from his very birth,
Runs weeping on, then creeps into the earth.
Those gorgeous flowers which the valleys crown,
That by the impartial
Trust me, they seem to hang their heads and weep,
’Cause, in their
causes, they so soon must sleep
So man to his
first principles must
And take a nap in black Oblivion’s urn.
laurel, whose unconquered boughs
Encircles poets’ and the illustrious brows
emperors: how soon, alas, we see
verdant leaves all withered
filemot to be.
E’en so, man’s youth and beauty doth decay,
His heat and moisture cools and
dries to clay.
cedar that aspires so high,
Scorning the clouds, threat’ning to scale the sky,
For all her pride, a
kernel was her birth,
Which shows, at last, she must return to earth.
Though she the living kill and
Yet can she not from death herself reserve.
cypress that doth mourn for us in vain
Shall be cut down and never sprout again.
So man, being tied to his Creator’s laws,
Must taste of death and shrink unto his cause.
The towering, quick-eyed eagle, that alone
Phoebus in his blazing throne,
And, by that trial,
bastard birds disclaim,
Scorning they should be honored with her name;
Yet she and hers to dust must all
And sad obscurity must them
So miserable man doth draw his breath
Twixt hope and fear, then sinks into the earth.
The phoenix on her lofty altar lies
And willingly a
virgin victim dies;
Her gold and purple
plumes to ashes turns
As in her aromatic pyre
So man, that to eternity aspires,
Conquered by death, into his cause retires.
The snowy swan upon the trembling breast
Thames—how poor a time of rest
She doth enjoy—soon droops her milk-white wings,
While sadly she her
So while man strives
t’eternize others’ glory,
Conspiring Death and Time cuts off
stag that trips it o’er the lawn in state,
Scorning the ground, is subject unto fate.
Even that brave
Blackmore once did hold,
Whose snowy neck encircled was with gold,
All ages being desired, for Caesar’s sake,
To spare his life whene’er
they did him
But yet, for all this conquering king’s desire,
he did his vital breath
So man, that enters
in’s sad mother’s fears,
As he begins, his exit makes: in tears.
That beast which poisoned waters drinks with scorn,
Because she wears a
putrefaction she her
Corruption, then, at
last, will have his due.
So man (alas) no cure can find in death,
When He that gave it takes away
king of beasts that doth the forest range,
And, at his pleasure, doth his pasture change,
our Hydra) makes his will his laws,
vassals with his cruel claws,
As other creatures hath his terror felt,
So Death will do by him, as he hath dealt.
So domineering man, his
Ere long be
read and seen in naught but dust.
leviathan that plays and sports
makes mad reax in Neptune’s azure courts,
E’en he, whose
fellow was, by fate’s direction,
Feigned to be
powdered ’gainst the Resurrection,
son of pride on the forsaken shores,
Out of his element, his life
So man, though he all creatures else transcend
In sighs and groans (ah me!), his life must end.
swiftest creature that’s below the moon,
Which saved Arion’s life (alas), how soon
race will end; even in a little time
She must return again to dirt or slime.
So man, his destiny can ne’er outrun,
Parcae cuts: man’s life is done.
remora that ne’er will fail
To stop the proudest ship that’s under sail,
When Death doth summon her, she must away;
For all her art, she can’t make time to
So man, that strives to
blur another’s fame,
Death comes the
blots out his own name.
Those cities that the
Beneath their ruins (sadly) lies defacest:
As Nineveh, Persepolis the fair,
And Babylon (so famous!), all despair
Of ever being restored again; and now
We see that all to time and fate must bow.
So wretched man, whose structure is of
period’s past, he
And this, our globe of earth,
ere long shall burn,
And all her pomp and pride to cinders’ ashes
Then, my impatient soul, what canst thou say,
sublunary things decay?
Aurora, in her youthful pride,
Her purple curtains newly drawn aside,
As when her blesséd infant she brought forth,
Astraea of unparalleled worth.
Bright is the one, but brighter is the other;
The daughter infinitely excels the mother.
Light from mine eyes, I wish may never part,
But thou, sweet Truth, shalt harbor in my heart.
Yet this most glorious creature, Light, soon fades
And is enveloped in night’s dark shades.
So though man’s soul’s a beam of heavenly light,
Yet must his body sleep in death and night.
splendency shall cease,
And she shall
leave to wane and to increase;
Nor shall her changes make our ocean rise
Or fall, or her sad influence close our eyes.
her brother’s fiery shafts no more
Shall make poor
Niobes their loss deplore.
That leads the
sable Empress on her way,
Bearing a torch her
ebon coach beside,
As she, triumphant, round
our orb doth ride,
E’en she shall be
amazed and lose her way,
Not able to conduct the night or day.
Nor shall that sly thief Hermes ever
Behind th’illustrious sun beams, playing bo peep;
His light shall be obscured no more with light,
But all his
come in sight.
fount and center of all light, the sun,
Round whom those
orbs perpetually do run,
Shall all his influence and light contract,
Which will amazéd Nature quite distract.
Auspicious Jupiter, poor mortal’s friend,
His mild aspect to earth no more shall send.
flagrant rapier shall put up,
Seeing total Nature drinks the
malignant, melancholy star
That, to do mischief, could
discern so far
Hibernie where I
first had life,
Now quite destroyed by
Ah, cruel stars, not me alone annoy,
But my poor country too,
they must destroy.
conjunctions too ere long shall cease;
When all’s to chaos turned, there will be peace.
The six proud
Pleiades shall their beauty hide,
As well as Sisyphus his bashful
Orion’s harp no music make,
But such as shall the
stoutest courage shake.
tenderhearted sisters shall no more
Their brother Hyas’s hasty fate deplore,
Showering from their sad eyes such floods of rain
That oft the plowman’s hopes and labor’s vain.
vulture that did stop man’s high design,
Must stoop to fate and cease to fly or shine.
And all the gems of
Shall lose their sparkling luster and drop down.
Nor shall pale
Asoph evermore appear
At the revolving of four hundred year;
For though her absence we have long endured,
Yet shall she be eternally obscured.
Sirius no more shall show her face,
As she doth use when Phoebus is in place.
But these, and all the fixéd orbs of light,
Shall be involved once more in horrid night.
Like robes, the
elements shall folded lie
In the vast wardrobe of eternity.
Then my unsettled soul, be more
Seeing all this universe must be