While thirteen moons saw smoothly run
The Nen's barge-laden wave,
All these, life's rambling journey done,
Have found their home, the grave.
Was man (frail always) made more frail
Than in foregoing years?
Did famine or did plague prevail,
That so much death appears?
No; these were vigorous as their sires,
Nor plague nor famine came;
This annual tribute Death requires,
And never waives his claim.
Like crowded forest-trees we stand,
And some are marked to fall;
The axe will smite at God's command,
And soon shall smite us all.
Green as the bay tree, ever green,
WIth its new foliage on,
The gay, the thoughtless, have I seen,
I passed, -- and they were gone.
Read, ye that run, the awful truth
With which I charge my page!
A worm is in the bud of youth,
And at the root of age.
No present health can health insure
For yet an hour to come;
No meicine, though it oft can cure
Can always balk the tomb.
And oh! that humble as my lot,
And scorned as is my strain,
These truths, though known, too much forgot,
I may not teach in vain.
So prays your Clerk with all his heart,
And, ere he quits the pen,
Begs you for once to take his part,
And answer all -- Amen!
More verses by William Cowper
- Stanzas Subjoined To The Yearly Bill Of Mortality Of The Parish Of All-Saints, Northampton. Anno Domini 1788
- Stanzas Subjoined To The Yearly Bill Of Mortality Of The Parish Of All-Saints, Northampton. Anno Domini 1793
- Sunset And Sunrise (Translated From Owen)
- That Nature Is Not Subject To Decay (Translated From Milton)
- The Distress'D Travellers; Or, Labour In Vain