Anonymous, “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

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