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English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

Thomas Campbell

456. The River of Life

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,

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,

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,

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?

Heaven gives our years of fading strength

Indemnifying fleetness;

And those of youth, a seeming length,

Proportion’d to their sweetness.