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   English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
456. The River of Life
 
Thomas Campbell (1777–1844)
 
 
THE MORE we live, more brief appear
  Our life’s succeeding stages:
A day to childhood seems a year,
  And years like passing ages.
 
The gladsome current of our youth,        5
  Ere passion yet disorders,
Steals lingering like a river smooth
  Along its grassy borders.
 
But as the care-worn cheeks grow wan,
  And sorrow’s shafts fly thicker,        10
Ye Stars, that measure life to man,
  Why seem your courses quicker?
 
When joys have lost their bloom and breath
  And life itself is vapid,
Why, as we reach the Falls of Death,        15
  Feel we its tide more rapid?
 
It may be strange—yet who would change
  Time’s course to slower speeding,
When one by one our friends have gone
  And left our bosoms bleeding?        20
 
Heaven gives our years of fading strength
  Indemnifying fleetness;
And those of youth, a seeming length,
  Proportion’d to their sweetness.
 

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