The Vanity of Existence

To Thyrsis

In youth, gay scenes attract our eyes,
   And not suspecting their decay
Life's flowery fields before us rise,
   Regardless of its winter day.

But vain pursuits and joys as vain,
   Convince us life is but a dream.
Death is to wake, to rise again
   To that true life you best esteem.

So nightly on some shallow tide,
   Oft have I seen a splendid show;
Reflected stars on either side,
   And glittering moons were seen below.

But when the tide had ebbed away,
   The scene fantastic with it fled,
A bank of mud around me lay,
   And sea-weed on the river's bed.

This poem is in the public domain.