Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extracts from The Grave: Omnes eodem cogimur
By Robert Blair (1699–1746)
 
(See full text.)

ON this side and on that men see their friends
Drop off like leaves in autumn, yet launch out
Into fantastic schemes, which the long livers
In the world’s hale and undegenerate days
Could scarce have leisure for. Fools that we are,        5
Never to think of death and of ourselves
At the same time: as if to learn to die
Were no concern of ours. Oh! more than sottish
For creatures of a day in gamesome mood
To frolic on Eternity’s dread brink        10
Unapprehensive, when, for aught we know,
The very first swoln surge shall sweep us in.
Think we or think we not, time hurries on
With a resistless unremitting stream,
Yet treads more soft than e’er did midnight thief        15
That slides his hand under the miser’s pillow
And carries off his prize. What is this world?
What but a spacious burial-field unwalled
Strewed with death’s spoils, the spoils of animals
Savage and tame, and full of dead men’s bones.        20
The very turf on which we tread once lived,
And we that live must lend our carcases
To cover our own offspring; in their turns
They too must cover theirs—’tis here all meet.
The shivering Icelander and sunburnt Moor,        25
Men of all climes who never met before,
And of all creeds, the Jew, the Turk, the Christian.
Here the proud prince, and favourite yet prouder,
His sovereign’s keeper and the people’s scourge,
Are huddled out of sight.—Here lie abashed        30
The great negotiators of the earth,
And celebrated masters of the balance,
Deep read in stratagems and wiles of courts;
Now vain their treaty skill.—Death scorns to treat.
Here the o’erloaded slave flings down his burden        35
From his galled shoulders, and when the stern tyrant.
With all his guards and tools of power about him
Is meditating new unheard-of hardships,
Mocks his short arm, and quick as thought escapes
Where tyrants vex not and the weary rest.        40
 
 
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