By force, by fraud, by purchase, or by death.
Will change their lords, and pass to other hands.
Then since to none perpetual use is given.
And heir to heir, as wave to wave, succeeds,
How vain the pride of wealth I how vain the boast
Of fields, plantations, parks, and palaces.
If death invades alike, with ruthless arm.
The peasant’s cottage, and the regal tower,
Unawed by pomp, inflexible by gold!
Death comes to all. His cold and sapless hand
Waves o’er the world, and beckons us away.
Who shall resist the summons? Child of earth!
While yet the blood’ runs dancing through thy veins,
Impelled by joy and youth’s meridian heat,
‘Twere wise at times, to change the crowded haunts
Of human splendour, for the woodland realms
Of soUtude, and mark, with heedful ear.
The hollow voice of the autumnal wind.
That warns thee of thy own mortality.
Death comes to all. Not earth’s collected wealth.
Golcondian diamonds and Peruvian gold.
Can gain from him the respite of an hour.
He wrests his treasure from the miser’s grasp.
Dims the pale rose on beauty’s fading cheel’.
Tears the proud diadem from kingly brows.
And breaks the warrior’s adamantine shield.
Man yields to death; and man’s sublimest works
Must yield at length to Time. The proud one thinks
Of life’s uncertain tenure, and laments
His transitory greatness. While he boasts
His noble blood, from ancient kings derived.
And views with careless and disdainful eye
The humble and the poor, he shrinks in vain
From anxious thoughts, that teach his sickening heart
That he is like the beings he contemns,
The creature of an hour; that when a few,
Few years have past, that little spot of earth.
That dark and narrow bed, which all must press.
Will level all distinction. Then he bids
The marble structure rise, to guard awhile,
A little while, his fading memory.
Thou lord of thousands I Time is lord of thee:
Thy wealth, thy glory, and thy name are his.
And may protract the blow, but cannot bar
His certain course, nor shield his destined prey.
The wind and rain assail thy sumptuous domes:
They sink, and are forgotten. All that is
Must one day cease to be. The chiefs and kings,
That awe the nations with their pomp and power,
Shall slumber with the chiefs and kings of old:
And Time shall leave no monumental stone.
To tell the spot of their eternal rest.
The Poems of Thomas Love Peacock, ed. Brimley Johnson (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1906)