Few are thy days, and full of woe,
O man, of woman born!
Thy doom is written, ‘Dust thou art,
and shalt to dust return.’
Behold the emblem of thy state
in flow’rs that bloom and die,
Or in the shadow’s fleeting form,
that mocks the gazer’s eye.
Guilty and frail, how shalt thou stand
before thy sov’reign Lord?
Can troubled and polluted springs
a hallowed stream afford?
Determined are the days that fly
successive o’er thy head;
The numbered hour is on the wing
that lays thee with the dead.
Great God! afflict not in thy wrath
the short allotted span
That bounds the few and weary days
of pilgrimage to man.
All nature dies, and lives again:
the flow’r that paints the field,
The trees that crown the mountain’s brow,
and boughs and blossoms yield,
Resign the honours of their form
at Winter’s stormy blast,
And leave the naked leafless plain
a desolated waste.
Yet soon reviving plants and flow’rs
anew shall deck the plain;
The woods shall hear the voice of Spring,
and flourish green again.
But man forsakes this earthly scene,
ah! never to return:
Shall any foll’wing spring revive
the ashes of the urn?
The mighty flood that rolls along
its torrents to the main,
Can ne’er recall its waters lost
from that abyss again.
So days, and years, and ages past,
descending down to night,
Can henceforth never more return
back to the gates of light;
And man, when laid in lonesome grave,
shall sleep in Death’s dark gloom,
Until th’ eternal morning wake
the slumbers of the tomb,
O may the grave become to me
the bed of peaceful rest,
Whence I shall gladly rise at length,
and mingle with the blest!
Cheered by this hope, with patient mind,
I’ll wait Heav’n’s high decree,
Till the appointed period come,
when death shall set me free.