What is Life?

by John Clare


And what is Life ? an hour-glass on the run
A mist retreating from the morning sun
    A busy bustling still repeated dream
Its length ? A moment’s pause, a moment’s thought
    And happiness ? A bubble on the stream
That in the act of seizing shrinks to nought
Vain hopes—what are they ? Puffing gales of morn
That of its charms divests the dewy lawn
    And robs each flowret of its gem and dies
A cobweb hiding disappointments thorn
    Which stings more keenly thro’ the thin disguise
And thou, O trouble ? Nothing can suppose,
And sure the Power of Wisdom only knows,
    What need requireth thee.
So free and lib’ral as thy bounty flows,
    Some necessary cause must surely be.
And what is death ? Is still the cause unfound
The dark mysterious name of horrid sound
    A long and ling’ring sleep the weary crave—
And peace—where can its happiness abound ?
    No where at all but Heaven and the grave
Then what is Life ? When stript of its disguise
    A thing to be desir’d it cannot be
Since every thing that meets our foolish eyes
    Gives proof sufficient of its vanity
’Tis but a trial all must undergo
    To teach unthankful mortals how to prize
That happiness vain man’s denied to know
    Untill he’s call’d to claim it in the skies.
John Clare | Classic Poems

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