Alas! my Posthumus, the Years
Unpausing glide away;
Nor suppliant hands, nor fervent prayers,
Their fleeting pace delay;
Nor smooth the brow, when furrowing lines descend,
Nor from the stoop of Age the faltering Frame defend.
Time goads us on, relentless Sire!
On to the shadowy Shape, that stands
Terrific on the funeral pyre,
Waving the already kindled brands. -
Thou canst not slacken this reluctant speed,
Tho' still on Pluto's shrine thy Hecatomb should bleed.
Beyond the dim Lake's mournful flood,
That skirts the verge of mortal light,
He chains the Forms, on earth that stood
Proud, and gigantic in their might;
That gloomy Lake, o'er whose oblivious tide
Kings, Consuls, Pontiffs, Slaves, in ghastly silence glide.
In vain the bleeding field we shun,
In vain the loud and whelming wave;
And, as autumnal winds come on,
And wither'd leaves bestrew the cave,
Against their noxious blast, their sullen roar,
In vain we pile the hearth, in vain we close the door.
The universal lot ordains
We seek the black Cocytus' stream,
That languid strays thro' dreary plains,
Where cheerless fires perpetual gleam;
Where the fell Brides their fruitless toil bemoan,
And Sisyphus uprolls the still-returning stone.
Thy tender wife, thy large domain,
Soon shalt thou quit, at Fate's command;
And of those various trees, that gain
Their culture from thy fost'ring hand,
The Cypress only shall await thy doom,
Follow its short-liv'd Lord, and shade his lonely tomb!