As, in the lonely night,
Above the silvered fields and streams
Where zephyr gently blows,
And myriad objects vague,
Illusions, that deceive,
Their distant shadows weave
Amid the silent rills,
The trees, the hedges, villages, and hills;
Arrived at heaven's boundary,
Behind the Apennine or Alp,
Or into the deep bosom of the sea,
The moon descends, the world grows dim;
The shadows disappear, darkness profound
Falls on each hill and vale around,
And night is desolate,
And singing, with his plaintive lay,
The parting gleam of friendly light
The traveller greets, whose radiance bright,
Till now, hath guided him upon his way;
So vanishes, so desolate
Youth leaves our mortal state.
The shadows disappear,
And the illusions dear;
And in the distance fading all, are seen
The hopes on which our suffering natures lean.
Abandoned and forlorn
Our lives remain;
And the bewildered traveller, in vain,
As he its course surveys,
To find the end, or object tries,
Of the long path that still before him lies.
A hopeless darkness o'er him steals;
Himself an alien on the earth he feels.
Too happy, and too gay
Would our hard lot appear
To those who placed us here, if youth,
Whose every joy is born of pain,
Through all our days were suffered to remain;
Too merciful the law,
That sentences each animal to death,
Did not the road that leads to it,
E'er half-completed, unto us appear
Than death itself more sad and drear.
Thou blest invention of the Gods,
And worthy of their intellects divine,
Old age, the last of all our ills,
When our desires still linger on,
Though every ray of hope is gone;
When pleasure's fountains all are dried,
Our pains increasing, every joy denied!
Ye hills, and vales, and fields,
Though in the west hath set the radiant orb
That shed its lustre on the veil of night,
Will not long time remain bereft,
In hopeless darkness left?
Ye soon will see the eastern sky
Grow white again, the dawn arise,
Precursor of the sun,
Who with the splendor of his rays
Will all the scene irradiate,
And with his floods of light
The fields of heaven and earth will inundate.
But mortal life,
When lovely youth has gone,
Is colored with no other light,
And knows no other dawn.
The rest is hopeless wretchedness and gloom;
The journey's end, the dark and silent tomb.