Why dost thou build up stately rooms on high, Thou who art underground to lie? Thou sow'st and plantest, but no fruit must see; For death, alas? is sowing thee.
Suppose, thou fortune couldst to tameness bring, And clip or pinion her wine; Suppose thou couldst on fate so far prevail As not to cut off thy entail.
Yet death at all that subtlety will laugh, Death will that foolish gardener mock Who does a slight and annual plant engraff, Upon a lasting stock.
Thou dost thyself wise and industrious deem; A mighty husband thou wouldst seem; Fond man! like a bought slave, thou, all the while Dost but for others sweat and toil.
Officious fool! that needs must meddling be In business that concerns not thee! For when to future years thou extend'st thy cares, Thou deal'st in other men's affairs.
Even aged men, as if they truly were Children again, for age prepare, Pro visions for long travail they design In the last point of their short line.
Wisely the ant against poor winter hoards The stock which summer's wealth affords, In grasshoppers, that must at autumn die, How vain were such an industry.
Of power and honour the deceitful light Might half excuse our cheated sight, If it of life the whole small time would stay, And be our sunshine all the day.