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The Poems of Jonathan Swift, D.D., Volume 1 By Jonathan Swift Characters: 1045

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


Alas, how fleeting and how vain

Is even the nobler man, our learning and our wit!

I sigh whene'er I think of it:

As at the closing an unhappy scene

Of some great king and conqueror's death,

When the sad melancholy Muse

Stays but to catch his utmost breath.

I grieve, this nobler work, most happily begun,

So quickly and so wonderfully carried on,

May fall at last to interest, folly, and abuse.

There is a noontide in our lives,

Which still the sooner it arrives,

Although we boast our

winter sun looks bright,

And foolishly are glad to see it at its height,

Yet so much sooner comes the long and gloomy night.

No conquest ever yet begun,

And by one mighty hero carried to its height,

E'er flourished under a successor or a son;

It lost some mighty pieces through all hands it pass'd,

And vanish'd to an empty title in the last.

For, when the animating mind is fled,

(Which nature never can retain,

Nor e'er call back again,)

The body, though gigantic, lies all cold and dead.

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