Say, ye who through this round of eighty years
Have proved its joys and sorrows, hopes and fears,β€”
Say, what is life, ye veterans, who have trod,
Step following step, its flowery, thorny road?
Enough of good to kindle strong desire,
Enough of ill to damp the rising fire,
Enough of love and fancy, joy and hope,
To fan desire and give the passions scope.
Enough of disappointment, sorrow, pain,
To seal the wise man's sentence, All is vain,β€”
And quench the wish to live those years again.
Science for man unlocks her various store,
And gives enough to urge the wish for more;
Systems and suns lie open to his gaze,
Nature invites his love, and God his praise;
Yet doubt and ignorance with his feelings sport,
And Jacob's ladder is some rounds too short.
Yet still to humble hope enough is given
Of light from reason's lamp, and light from heaven,
To teach us what to follow, what to shun,
To bow the head and say β€œThy will be done!”

More verses by Anna Laetitia Barbauld