O what a vanity is Man!
How like the eye's quick wink
His cottage fails; whose narrow span
Begins e'en at the brink!
Nine months Thy hands are fashioning us,
And many years--alas!--
Ere we can lisp, or aught discuss
Concerning Thee, must pass;
Yet have I known Thy slightest things,
A feather, or a shell,
A stick, or rod, which some chance brings,
The best of us excel;--
Yea, I have known these shreds outlast
A fair compacted frame,
And for one twenty we have past155155See Note
Almost outlive our name.
Yet had our pilgrimage been free,
And smooth without a thorn,
Pleasures had foil'd156156Or, soil'd: the first letter dubious Eternity,
And tares had choked the corn.
Thus by the Cross Salvation runs;
Affliction is a mother,
Whose painful throes yield many sons,
Each fairer than the other.
A silent tear can pierce Thy throne,
When loud joys want a wing;
And sweeter airs stream from a groan,
Than any arted157157arted, p1ayed on skilfully string.