By Benjamin Hine
What has decrepid age to fear from death,
Or hope from life, should Heaven prolong our breath?
Nothing on either hand; death ends that pain
Which living age shall hope to shun in vain.
The longer we journey on in life’s lone way,
The sharper our sufferings grow from day to day,
Our youthful spirits dry, and joys all fled,
Tedious and tiresome is the path we tread;
Nor hope remains from aught the earth can give;
Age lives by halves, or only seems to live.
Not so with youth,— a thousand charms invite,
Their sprightly steps, their fondest loves unite;
The world’s before them, hope is on their side;
Their bark sails with, and not against the tide.
Just the reverse with age; life’s ebbing tide.
Nor briskly flows along, nor smoothly glides,
But loitering slowly through the obstructed veins,
Each limb, each nerve, must feel a thousand pains,
Diseases lurk through all the shattered frame,
And aches untold, the muse could never name,
Are daily felt, nor hope from earth remains;—
The grave’s the only refuge from our pains.
Thence then this dread of death, even in age,
When life’s exhausted to its latest page,
And nothing but its baleful dregs are left,
Of every comfort, every joy bereft?
Oh, death, thou king of terrors, how we dread
Thy cold embrace, thy gloomy courts to tread,
Where darkness broods, and night perpetual reigns;
How nature shudders at thy icy chains?
And why? because frail nature sees no light,
Beyond the tomb no end to death’s dark night.
Here reason fails farther her way to trace,—
Dread annihilation stares us in the face.
And is there then no hope, no cheering ray,
No promised rescue from death’s wretched sway;
No light before the soul, no lurid dawn,
No sweet, no blissful resurrection morn.
Yes, there is light, a ray shot down from Heaven
To cheer the soul by God in mercy given.
Religion bursts the gloom, and points the way,
To an hereafter, an eternal day.
Come then, blest Power come with thy healing art,
Pour all thy balm to soothe the aged heart;
Bring comfort with thee, and salvation bring,
From sin, and draw from death his torturing sting.