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With thine old year its voyage take, Borne down that stream of Time which no return can make
Alas! what need I thus to pray : Th' old avaricious year, Whether I would or no, will bear At least a part of me away : His well-hors'd troops, the months, and days, and hours, Though never any-where they stay, Make in their passage all their prey; [find The months, days, hours, that march i' th' rear, can Nought of value left behind. All the good wine of life our drunken youth devours; Sourness and lees, which to the bottom sink, Remain for latter years to drink; Until, some one offended with the taste, The vessel breaks, and out the wretched relicks run at last.
If then, young Year ! thou needst must come
Nor let thy livery be Either black Sin, or gaudy Vanity: Nay, if thou lov'st me, gentle Year! I.et not so much as Love be there; Wain fruitless Love, I mean; for, gentle Year ! Although I fear, There’s of this caution little need, Yet, gentle Year ! take heed How thou dost make Such a mistake: Such Love I mean, alone, As by thy cruel predecessors has been shown; For, though I have too much cause to doubt it, I fain would try for once if Life can live without it.
Into the future times why do we pry,
We should stand shivering, and but slowly venture
WE're ill by these grammarians us'd :
My eyes are open'd, and I see Through the transparent fallacy: Because we seem wisely to talk Like men of business; and for business walk From place to place, And mighty voyages we take, And mighty journeys seem to make, O'er sea and land, the little point that has no space: Because we fight, and battles gain; Some captives call, and say, “the rest are slain:” Because we heap up yellow earth, and so Rich, valiant, wise, and virtuous, seem to grow: Because we draw a long nobility From hieroglyphick proofs of heraldry, And impudently talk of a posterity, And, like Egyptian chroniclers, Who write of twenty thousand years, With maravedies make th’ account, That single time might to a sum amount: We grow at last by custom to believe, That really we Live: Whilst all these Shadows, that for Things we take, Are but the empty dreams which in Death's sleep we make.
But these fantastick errors of our dream
The wide-stretch'd scroll of heaven, which we Immortal as the Deity think, With all the beauteous characters that in it With such deep sense by God's own hand were writ (Whose eloquence, though we understand not, we admire) Shall crackle, and the parts together shrink Like parchment in a fire: Th’ exhausted sun to th’ moon no more shall lend; But truly then headlong into the sea descend: The glittering host, now in such fair array, So proud, so well-appointed, and so gay, Like fearful troops in some strong ambush ta'en, Shall some fly routed, and some fall slain, Thick as ripe fruit, or yellow leaves, in autumn fall, With such a violent storm as blows down tree and all.
And thou, O cursed land 1 Which wilt not see the precipice where thou dost stand (Though thou stand'st just upon the brink) Thou of this poison'd bowl the bitter dregs shalt drink. Thy rivers and thy lakes shall so With human blood o'erflow, That they shall fetch the slaughter'd corpse away, Which in the fields around unburied lay, And rob the beasts and birds to give the fish their