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INSCRIPTIONS

SUPPOSED TO BE FOUND IN AND NEAR A HERMIT'S CELL, 1818

I

          HOPES what are they?--Beads of morning
          Strung on slender blades of grass;
          Or a spider's web adorning
          In a strait and treacherous pass.

          What are fears but voices airy?
          Whispering harm where harm is not;
          And deluding the unwary
          Till the fatal bolt is shot!

          What is glory?--in the socket
          See how dying tapers fare!                                  10
          What is pride?--a whizzing rocket
          That would emulate a star.

          What is friendship?--do not trust her,
          Nor the vows which she has made;
          Diamonds dart their brightest lustre
          From a palsy-shaken head.

          What is truth?--a staff rejected;
          Duty?--an unwelcome clog;
          Joy?--a moon by fits reflected
          In a swamp or watery bog;                                   20

          Bright, as if through ether steering,
          To the Traveller's eye it shone:
          He hath hailed it re-appearing--
          And as quickly it is gone;

          Such is Joy--as quickly hidden,
          Or mis-shapen to the sight,
          And by sullen weeds forbidden
          To resume its native light.

          What is youth?--a dancing billow,
          (Winds behind, and rocks before!)                           30
          Age?--a drooping, tottering willow
          On a flat and lazy shore.

          What is peace?--when pain is over,
          And love ceases to rebel,
          Let the last faint sigh discover
          That precedes the passing knell!


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