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
 
Life
By Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743–1825)
 
‘Animula, vagula, blandula.’

LIFE! I know not what thou art,
But know that thou and I must part;
And when, or how, or where we met,
I own to me ’s a secret yet.
But this I know, when thou art fled        5
Where’er they lay these limbs, this head,
No clod so valueless shall be
As all that then remains of me.
O whither, whither dost thou fly,
Where bend unseen thy trackless course,        10
    And in this strange divorce,
Ah, tell where I must seek this compound I?
To the vast ocean of empyreal flame
  From whence thy essence came
  Dost thou thy flight pursue, when freed        15
  From matter’s base encumbering weed?
    Or dost thou, hid from sight,
    Wait, like some spell-bound knight,
Through blank oblivious years the appointed hour
To break thy trance and reassume thy power?        20
Yet canst thou without thought or feeling be?
O say what art thou when no more thou’rt thee?
 
Life! we ’ve been long together,
Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
  ’Tis hard to part when friends are dear;        25
  Perhaps ’twill cost a sigh, a tear;
  Then steal away, give little warning,
    Choose thine own time;
Say not Good night, but in some brighter clime
    Bid me Good morning.        30
 
 
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