They talk of short-lived pleasure—be it so—
Pain dies as quickly: stern, hard-featured pain
Expires, and lets her weary prisoner go.
The fiercest agonies have shortest reign;
And after dreams of horror, comes again
The welcome morning with its rays of peace.
Oblivion, softly wiping out the stain,
Makes the strong secret pangs of shame to cease:
Remorse is virtue’s root; its fair increase
Are fruits of innocence and blessedness:
Thus joy, o’erborne and bound, doth still release
His young limbs from the chains that round him press.
Weep not that the world changes—did it keep
A stable changeless state, ’twere cause indeed to weep.
This poem is in the public domain.
“Sonnet—Mutation” first appeared in The United States Literary Gazette in 1824. It was later published in Bryant’s book Poems (Russell, Odiorne, and Metcalf, 1834).