Vanities


What are life’s joys and gains?
What pleasures crowd its ways,
That man should take such pains
To seek them all his days?
Sift this untoward strife
On which thy mind is bent,
See if this chaff of life
Is worth the trouble spent. 

Is pride thy heart’s desire?
Is power thy climbing aim?
Is love thy folly’s fire?
Is wealth thy restless game?
Pride, power, love, wealth and all,
Time’s touchstone shall destroy,
And, like base coin, prove all
Vain substitutes for joy. 

Dost think that pride exalts
Thyself in other’s eyes,
And hides thy folly’s faults,
Which reason will despise?
Dost strut, and turn, and stride,
Like walking weathercocks?
The shadow by thy side
Becomes thy ape, and mocks. 

Dost think that power’s disguise
Can make thee mighty seem?
It may in folly’s eyes,
But not in worth’s esteem:
When all that thou canst ask,
And all that she can give,
Is but a paltry mask
Which tyants wear and live. 

Go, let thy fancies range
And ramble where they may;
View power in every change,
And what is the display?
– The country magistrate,
The lowest shade in power,
To rulers of the state,
The meteors of an hour: – 

View all, and mark the end
Of every proud extreme,
Where flattery turns a friend,
And counterfeits esteem;
Where worth is aped in show,
That doth her name purloin,
Like toys of golden glow
That’s sold for copper coin. 

Ambition’s haughty nod,
With fancies may deceive,
Nay, tell thee thou’rt a god, –
And wilt thou such believe?
Go, bid the seas be dry,
Go, hold earth like a ball,
Or throw her fancies by,
For God can do it all. 

Dost thou possess the dower
Of laws to spare or kill?
Call it not heav’nly power
When but a tyrant’s will;
Know what a God will do,
And know thyself a fool,
Nor tyrant-like pursue
Where He alone should rule. 

Dost think, when wealth is won,
Thy heart has its desire?
Hold ice up to the sun,
And wax before the fire;
Nor triumph o’er the reign
Which they so soon resign;
In this world weigh the gain,
Insurance safe is thine. 

Dost think life’s peace secure
In houses and in land?
Go, read the fairy lure
To twist a cord of sand;
Lodge stones upon the sky,
Hold water in a sieve,
Nor give such tales the lie,
And still thine own believe. 

Whoso with riches deals,
And thinks peace bought and sold,
Will find them slippery eels,
That slide the firmest hold:
Though sweet as sleep with health,
Thy lulling luck may be,
Pride may o’erstride thy wealth,
And check prosperity. 

Dost think that beauty’s power,
Life’s sweetest pleasure gives?
Go, pluck the summer flower,
And see how long it lives:
Behold, the rays glide on,
Along the summer plain,
Ere thou canst say, they’re gone, –
And measure beauty’s reign. 

Look on the brightest eye,
Nor teach it to be proud,
But view the clearest sky
And thou shalt find a cloud;
Nor call each face ye meet
An angel’s, ’cause it’s fair,
But look beneath your feet,
And think of what ye are. 

Who thinks that love doth live
In beauty’s tempting show,
Shall find his hopes ungive,
And melt in reason’s thaw;
Who thinks that pleasure lies
In every fairy bower,
Shall oft, to his surprise,
Find poison in the flower. 

Dost lawless pleasures grasp?
Judge not thou deal’st in joy;
Its flowers but hide the asp,
Thy revels to destroy:
Who trusts a harlot’s smile,
And by her wiles is led,
Plays with a sword the while,
Hung dropping o’er his head. 

Dost doubt my warning song?
Then doubt the sun gives light,
Doubt truth to teach thee wrong,
And wrong alone as right;
And live as lives the knave,
Intrigue’s deceiving guest,
Be tyrant, or be slave,
As suits thy ends the best. 

Or pause amid thy toils,
For visions won and lost,
And count the fancied spoils,
If e’er they quit the cost;
And if they still possess
Thy mind, as worthy things,
Pick straws with Bedlam Bess,
And call them diamond rings. 

Thy folly’s past advice,
Thy heart’s already won,
Thy fall’s above all price,
So go, and be undone;
For all who thus prefer
The seeming great for small,
Shall make wine vinegar,
And sweetest honey gall. 

Wouldst heed the truths I sing,
To profit wherewithal,
Clip folly’s wanton wing,
And keep her within call:
I’ve little else to give,
What thou canst easy try,
The lesson how to live,
Is but to learn to die.

 

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Published by

ikramilluminati

Born in a conflict & caught between Scylla and Charybdis, trying to find my way out of the fracas/Geneticist/Writer. In the day I study and work on Human Diseases and during night I spend some time to write on Human Divide and Conflict.

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