- Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud!
- Like a light-fleeting meteor, a fast-flitting cloud,
- A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave.
- The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
- Be scattered around and together be laid;
- And the young and the old, and the low and the high,
Shall moulder to dust, and together shall lie.
- The child whom a mother attended and loved;
- The mother that infant’s affection who proved;
- The husband that mother and infant who blest,
Each, all are away to their dwelling of rest.
- The maid on whose brow, on whose cheek, in whose eye
- Shone beauty and pleasure, her triumphs are by;
- And alike from the minds of the living erased,
Are the mem’ries of mortals who loved her and praised.
- The hand of the King that the sceptre hath borne;
- The brow of the Priest that the mitre hath worn;
- The eye of the sage and the heart of the brave,
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.
- The saint who enjoy’d the communion of Heaven;
- The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven;
- The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.
- The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap;
- The herdsman that climb’d with his goats up the steep;
- The beggar who wander’d in search of his bread,
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.
- So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed
- That wither away to let others succeed;
- So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To reap every tale that has often been told.
- For we are the same that our fathers have been,
- We’ve seen the same sights that our fathers have seen;
- We drink the same stream, and we see the same sun,
And we run the course that our fathers have run.
- The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think,
- From the death we are shrinking our fathers would shrink,
- To the life we are clinging they also would cling;
But it speeds from the earth like a bird on the wing.
- They loved, but their story we cannot unfold,
- They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold;
- They grieved, but no wail from their slumbers will come;
They joyed, but the tongues of their gladness is dumb.
- They died!—ah! they died! We things that are now,
- Who walk on the turf that lies over each brow,
- That make in their dwellings a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.
- Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
- Are mingled together in sunshine and rain;
- And the smile and the tear, and the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other like surge upon surge.
- ‘Tis the wink of an eye, ‘tis the draught of a breath,
- From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
- From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud—
- Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud?