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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Africa: Vol. XXIV. 1876–79.

The Barbary States: Utica

Cato’s Soliloquy

By Joseph Addison (1672–1719)

(From Cato, Act V, Scene I)

IT must be so,—Plato, thou reason’st well!—

Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,

This longing after immortality?

Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,

Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul

Back on herself, and startles at destruction?

’T is the divinity that stirs within us;

’T is heaven itself, that points out an hereafter,

And intimates eternity to man.

Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!

Through what variety of untried being,

Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!

The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me;

But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.

Here will I hold. If there ’s a power above us

(And that there is all nature cries aloud

Through all her works), he must delight in virtue;

And that which he delights in must be happy.

But when! or where!—This world was made for Cæsar.

I ’m weary of conjectures.—This must end them.

(Laying his hand upon his sword.)
Thus am I doubly armed: my death and life,

My bane and antidote, are both before me:

This in a moment brings me to an end,

But this informs me I shall never die.

The soul, secured in her existence, smiles

At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.

The stars shall fade away, the sun himself

Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years;

But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,

Unhurt amidst the war of elements,

The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds.