The poem of poems
THE POEM OF POEMS
Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour?
Life’s a short summer-man a flower
By turn we catch the vital breath and die,
The cradle and the tomb, alas! So nigh.
To be is better far than not to be,
All man’s life me seems a tragedy,
For light cares speak when mighty griefs are dumb
The bottom is but shallow whence they come
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Unmeddled joys here to no man befall
Nature to each allots his proper sphere;
Fortune makes folly her peculiar care.
Custom does often reason overrule
And throw a cruel sunshine on a fool
Live well; How long or short; permit to Heaven;
They who forgive most shall be most forgiven.
Sin may be clasped so close we cannot see its face;
Vile intercourse where virtue has not place.
Then keep each passion down, however dear;
Thou pendulum betwixt a smile and tear.
Her sensual snares let faithless pleasure by,
With craft and skill to ruin and betray.
Soar not too high to fall; but stoop to rise;
We masters grow of all that we despise
O then! Renounce that impious self-esteem!
Riches have wings and grandeur is a dream
Nor think ambition wise because ’tis brave;
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
What is ambition? Tis a glorious cheat
Only destructive to the brave and great.
What’s all the gaudy glitter of a crown?
The way to bliss lies not on beds of down
How long we live, not years, but actions tell,
That man lives twice, who lives his first life well
Make, then, while yet you may, your god, my friend;
Whom Christians worship, yet not comprehend.
The trust that’s given, guard, and to yourself be just;
And live we how we can, yet die we must.
(from Ripley’s Believe it or not)