by Thomas Campbell (1777-1824)
The more we live, more brief appear
Our life’s succeeding stages;
A day to childhood seems a year,
And years like passing ages.
The gladsome current of our youth,
Ere passion yet disorders,
Steals lingering like a river smooth
Along its grassy borders.
But as the careworn cheek grows wan,
And sorrow’s shafts fly thicker,
Ye stars, that measure life to man,
Why seem your courses quicker?
When joys have lost their bloom and breath,
And life itself is vapid,
Why, as we reach the Falls of Death
Feel we its tide more rapid?
It may be strange—yet who would change
Time’s course to slower speeding,
When one by one our friends have gone,
And left our bosoms bleeding?
Heaven gives our years of fading strength
And those of youth, a seeming length,
Proportion’d to their sweetness.
For more about the human life cycle, see Thomas Armstrong, The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life