“THOUGHTS on LIFE”
LIFE! thou dead, deceitful guest!
Precious trifle! ferious jest!
Drawn by thee, we roam below,
Pilgrims, thro’ a vale of woe:
Toiling or by land or seas, 5
Strangers to the balm of ease!
Slaves to pleasure, tumult, gain,
O thou bitter–sweet to man!
In thy train, thy belt of friends,
Hope, fallacious fair! attends; 10
Hope, a thin, a shad’wy elf!
Hope, true image of thyself;
When against thy pow’r we rise,
Rous’d to rage, to mutinies!
When we aim the fatal stroke, 15
Ready to throw off thy yoke;
She the lifted hand arrests,
Fills with food of courts our breasts;
Anew we own our former lord,
To thee, and to ourselves, restor’d. 20
2 ferious Variant of “furious.”
7 tumult “Commotion of a multitude, usually with confused speech or uproar; public disturbance; disorderly or riotous proceeding” (OED).
10 fallacious “Deceptive, misleading” (OED).
11 Shad’wy elf A “wandering spirit; a devil” (Johnson).
16 yoke “A bond; a mark of servitude; slavery” (Johnson).
Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine, (December 1744), p. 671.
Edited by Henry Bettencourt