The Stoick

Dora Dulcamara

Each year sets a thicker mesh
To catch our wet and fragile flesh;
And yawn it soon or yawn it late,
The famished grave's our common fate.

Our breath is borrowed, as it were,
Our blood is hired, and the whir
Of thoughts within the rented brain
Weaves flitting pleasure, fleeting pain.

It may be that in zephyr'd peace,
Without a pang thy life shall cease:
Or on the shrilling martial field,
Midst gore and groans thy life thou'lt yield.

The Stoick asks: What matters it,
If harsh or soft thine end is writ?
One settled fate, beneath the sky,
Awaits us all: we all must die.

The Gods dwell far and loudest cries
Are weaker there than softest sighs;
Trust not in prayer, nor look above:
They heed not as they feast and love.

They heed not, as they quaff and war,
What man or maid doth them implore:
Thy doom is fix't, nor any pow'r
Averts its fall a single hour.

Not sob nor sigh, not plea nor plaint,
Unworks thy flesh its mortal taint:
As well beg off the wolvish jaw:
Thy tears smudge no jot of Law.

Content thee then with rags or lace:
What matters it? The mortal race
Spring forth as leaves, as leaves must fall
To compost Ceres cloud-roofed hall.

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