Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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EPITAPHS

IV

          THERE never breathed a man who, when his life
          Was closing, might not of that life relate
          Toils long and hard.--The warrior will report
          Of wounds, and bright swords flashing in the field,
          And blast of trumpets. He who hath been doomed
          To bow his forehead in the courts of kings,
          Will tell of fraud and never-ceasing hate,
          Envy and heart-inquietude, derived
          From intricate cabals of treacherous friends.
          I, who on shipboard lived from earliest youth,              10
          Could represent the countenance horrible
          Of the vexed waters, and the indignant rage
          Of Auster and Bootes. Fifty years
          Over the well-steered galleys did I rule:--
          From huge Pelorus to the Atlantic pillars,
          Rises no mountain to mine eyes unknown;
          And the broad gulfs I traversed oft and oft:
          Of every cloud which in the heavens might stir
          I knew the force; and hence the rough sea's pride
          Availed not to my Vessel's overthrow.                       20
          What noble pomp and frequent have not I
          On regal decks beheld! yet in the end
          I learned that one poor moment can suffice
          To equalise the lofty and the low.
          We sail the sea of life--a 'Calm' One finds,
          And One a 'Tempest'--and, the voyage o'er,
          Death is the quiet haven of us all.
          If more of my condition ye would know,
          Savona was my birth-place, and I sprang
          Of noble parents; seventy years and three                   30
          Lived I--then yielded to a slow disease.


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