1My soul, why art thou sad at the decay
2Of this frail
frame, this feeble house of
3What can be expected from the humble birth
frail fabric, but to fall to earth?
5The bubbling fountain, being by nature led,
rise no higher than her crystal head;
7Though many marble aqueducts it fill,
8Yet in a constant level it runs still.
9So mortal man, even from his very birth,
10Runs weeping on, then creeps into the earth.
11Those gorgeous flowers which the valleys crown,
12That by the impartial
13Trust me, they seem to hang their heads and weep,
14’Cause, in their
causes, they so soon must sleep
15So man to his
first principles must
16And take a nap in black Oblivion’s urn.
laurel, whose unconquered boughs
18Encircles poets’ and the illustrious brows
emperors: how soon, alas, we see
verdant leaves all withered
filemot to be.
21E’en so, man’s youth and beauty doth decay,
22His heat and moisture cools and
dries to clay.
cedar that aspires so high,
24Scorning the clouds, threat’ning to scale the sky,
25For all her pride, a
kernel was her birth,
26Which shows, at last, she must return to earth.
27Though she the living kill and
28Yet can she not from death herself reserve.
cypress that doth mourn for us in vain
30Shall be cut down and never sprout again.
31So man, being tied to his Creator’s laws,
32Must taste of death and shrink unto his cause.
33The towering, quick-eyed eagle, that alone
Phoebus in his blazing throne,
35And, by that trial,
bastard birds disclaim,
36Scorning they should be honored with her name;
37Yet she and hers to dust must all
38And sad obscurity must them
39So miserable man doth draw his breath
40Twixt hope and fear, then sinks into the earth.
41The phoenix on her lofty altar lies
42And willingly a
virgin victim dies;
43Her gold and purple
plumes to ashes turns
44As in her aromatic pyre
45So man, that to eternity aspires,
46Conquered by death, into his cause retires.
47The snowy swan upon the trembling breast
Thames—how poor a time of rest
49She doth enjoy—soon droops her milk-white wings,
50While sadly she her
51So while man strives
t’eternize others’ glory,
52Conspiring Death and Time cuts off
stag that trips it o’er the lawn in state,
54Scorning the ground, is subject unto fate.
55Even that brave
Blackmore once did hold,
56Whose snowy neck encircled was with gold,
57All ages being desired, for Caesar’s sake,
58To spare his life whene’er
they did him
59But yet, for all this conquering king’s desire,
he did his vital breath
61So man, that enters
in’s sad mother’s fears,
62As he begins, his exit makes: in tears.
63That beast which poisoned waters drinks with scorn,
64Because she wears a
putrefaction she her
66Corruption, then, at
last, will have his due.
67So man (alas) no cure can find in death,
68When He that gave it takes away
king of beasts that doth the forest range,
70And, at his pleasure, doth his pasture change,
our Hydra) makes his will his laws,
vassals with his cruel claws,
73As other creatures hath his terror felt,
74So Death will do by him, as he hath dealt.
75So domineering man, his
76Ere long be
read and seen in naught but dust.
leviathan that plays and sports
makes mad reax in Neptune’s azure courts,
79E’en he, whose
fellow was, by fate’s direction,
Feigned to be
powdered ’gainst the Resurrection,
son of pride on the forsaken shores,
82Out of his element, his life
83So man, though he all creatures else transcend
84In 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
88She must return again to dirt or slime.
89So man, his destiny can ne’er outrun,
Parcae cuts: man’s life is done.
remora that ne’er will fail
92To stop the proudest ship that’s under sail,
93When Death doth summon her, she must away;
94For all her art, she can’t make time to
95So man, that strives to
blur another’s fame,
96Death comes the
blots out his own name.
97Those cities that the
98Beneath their ruins (sadly) lies defacest:
As Nineveh, Persepolis the fair,
And Babylon (so famous!), all despair
101Of ever being restored again; and now
102We see that all to time and fate must bow.
103So wretched man, whose structure is of
period’s past, he
105And this, our globe of earth,
ere long shall burn,
106And all her pomp and pride to cinders’ ashes
107Then, my impatient soul, what canst thou say,
sublunary things decay?
Aurora, in her youthful pride,
110Her purple curtains newly drawn aside,
111As when her blesséd infant she brought forth,
Astraea of unparalleled worth.
113Bright is the one, but brighter is the other;
114The daughter infinitely excels the mother.
115Light from mine eyes, I wish may never part,
116But thou, sweet Truth, shalt harbor in my heart.
117Yet this most glorious creature, Light, soon fades
118And is enveloped in night’s dark shades.
119So though man’s soul’s a beam of heavenly light,
120Yet must his body sleep in death and night.
splendency shall cease,
122And she shall
leave to wane and to increase;
123Nor shall her changes make our ocean rise
124Or fall, or her sad influence close our eyes.
her brother’s fiery shafts no more
126Shall make poor
Niobes their loss deplore.
128That leads the
sable Empress on her way,
129Bearing a torch her
ebon coach beside,
130As she, triumphant, round
our orb doth ride,
131E’en she shall be
amazed and lose her way,
132Not able to conduct the night or day.
133Nor shall that sly thief Hermes ever
134Behind th’illustrious sun beams, playing bo peep;
135His light shall be obscured no more with light,
136But all his
come in sight.
fount and center of all light, the sun,
138Round whom those
orbs perpetually do run,
139Shall all his influence and light contract,
140Which will amazéd Nature quite distract.
Auspicious Jupiter, poor mortal’s friend,
142His mild aspect to earth no more shall send.
flagrant rapier shall put up,
144Seeing total Nature drinks the
malignant, melancholy star
146That, to do mischief, could
discern so far
Hibernie where I
first had life,
148Now quite destroyed by
149Ah, cruel stars, not me alone annoy,
150But my poor country too,
they must destroy.
conjunctions too ere long shall cease;
152When all’s to chaos turned, there will be peace.
153The six proud
Pleiades shall their beauty hide,
154As well as Sisyphus his bashful
Orion’s harp no music make,
156But such as shall the
stoutest courage shake.
tenderhearted sisters shall no more
158Their brother Hyas’s hasty fate deplore,
159Showering from their sad eyes such floods of rain
160That oft the plowman’s hopes and labor’s vain.
vulture that did stop man’s high design,
162Must stoop to fate and cease to fly or shine.
163And all the gems of
164Shall lose their sparkling luster and drop down.
165Nor shall pale
Asoph evermore appear
166At the revolving of four hundred year;
167For though her absence we have long endured,
168Yet shall she be eternally obscured.
Sirius no more shall show her face,
170As she doth use when Phoebus is in place.
171But these, and all the fixéd orbs of light,
172Shall be involved once more in horrid night.
173Like robes, the
elements shall folded lie
174In the vast wardrobe of eternity.
175Then my unsettled soul, be more
176Seeing all this universe must be