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Place me wheresoe'er you please,
On th' extended Continent,
Or some island dasht with seas,
Still shall I praise you, and be well content.
A serious Reflection on Human Life.
How vain is man! how foolish all his ways!
How short, and yet, how sorrowful his days!
From life's first moment, to its latest date,
A painful, careful, miserable state !
Languid as sunshine in a winter's day,
Its worthless joys, scarce tasted, haste away:
But grief, and labour, everlasting flow,
And make out one continued scene of woe.
Like blades of grass, poor mortals fall, and rise,
Here one springs up, one withers there, and dies :
This sun restores the loss of yesterday,
To-morrow takes, what this restor'd, away.
Thus fiery meteors dance along the plain,
Now up, now down, now seen, now lost again.
Man's infant state is chiefly pass'd in tears;
His youth in bondage under tyrant fears;
Manhood drives headlong with a loosen'd rein,
By passion spur'd, nor reason can restrain;
And in old age even life itself is pain.
Thus ev'ry stage peculiar sorrow knows,
As years on years, so woes increase on woes.
On man, if poor, a thousand ills attend,
Abandon'd, comfortless, he knows no friend;
A wretched life his labours scarce sustain,
Begun, continued, and dragg’d on with pain.
By all regarded with a scornful eye,
Despis’d he lives, does unlamented die:
No pompous obsequies his corse shall have,
Alone, and unattended to the grave.
But, if the Gods have doom'd him rich, and great,
He stands a mark for all the darts of fate :
So lofty mountains, storms, and tempests know,
While gentle calms bless all the plains below.
Tho' on his brows a regal-circle blaze,
And wond'ring crowds at humble distance gaze,
Wait ev'ry nod, his each command obey,
Aw'd by the false delusive charms of sway,
He sadly feels that weight which bends him down,
And finds there's no enjoyment in a crown:
Distinguish'd by his purple, and his cares,
His grief's superior, as the rank he bears.
No age, no state, unhappy mortals know,
Which is not full, and ever-charg’d with woe:
Troubles from life, as sparks from fire, arise ;
Man's born, knows cares, looks round, laments,
Death is the road to everlasting life,
To palms, and crowns, and to eternal joys
Unmix'd with sorrow: where no care, nor strife,
Or hopes, or fears, the happiness destroys ;
But where content, and love, and perfect peace,
And bliss, abides, which never knows decrease.
Death is a friend, that sets the wretched free,
From pain and want, and all their suff'rings here:
That laughs at disappointed tyranny,
And makes the slave no more his bondage sear;
That heals the sick, the hungry kindly fills,
And cures mankind of all their wordsily ills.
Death is a gate, that opens differently .
Two folding doors, which lead contrary ways;
Thro' this the good man finds felicity,
The bad thro' that to endless ruin strays :
Herein they both the self-same rule retain,
Who enters once must ne'er return again.
With down-cast eyes, and folded arms,
Young Myrtle saunter'd out one day, :
Reflecting on Florinda's charms,
The fair, the blooming, and the gay;
Deeply he sigh’d, his bosom all a flame,
And on the dust be flourished out her name.
Next morn, abroad he walk'd again,
Much alter'd since the day before : A good night's rest had cur'd his pain,
Nor was Florinda thought of more. But gidd chance the fickle youth had brought Close by that spot where he her name had wrote.
The place recals to mind his flame,
When all in love he wander'd there: 'Twas here, he cries, I left the name
Of yesterday's commanding fair. Pensive a-while he stood, then look'd to find What beauteous image had possess'd his mind.
But vain, alas! his searches prove,
The rain had fallen, the wind had blown, And sympathizing with his love,
Away was every letter flown : Nor could his faithless memory declare Whose name he yesterday had flourish'd there,
Why should I pine, lament, and die,
For one kind glance of Flora’s eye;
Or sue to her who slights my pains,
Contemns my vows, my love disdains ?
While such a beauteous throng appear,
More kind than she,-tho' none so fair,
More soft she seems than falling snow;
Or silver streams that gently flow,