Old Age sits bent on his iron-grey steed;
Youth rides erect on his courser black;
And little he thinks in his reckless speed
Old Age comes on, in the very same track.
And on Youth goes, with his cheek like the rose,
And his radiant eyes, and his raven hair;
And his laugh betrays how little he knows,
Of Age, and his sure companion Care.
The courser black is put to his speed,
And Age plods on, in a quieter way,
And little Youth thinks that the iron-grey steed
Approaches him nearer, every day!
Though one seems strong as the forest tree,
The other infirm, and wanting breath;
If ever Youth baffles Old Age, 'twill be
By rushing into the arms of Death!
On his courser black, away Youth goes,
The prosing sage may rest at home;
He'll laugh and quaff, for well he knows
That years must pass ere Age can come.
And since too brief are the daylight hours
For those who would laugh their lives away;
With beaming lamps, and mimic flowers,
He'll teach the night to mock the day!
Again he'll laugh, again he'll feast,
His lagging foe he'll still deride,
Until—when he expects him least—
Old Age and he stand side by side!
He then looks into his toilet-glass,
And sees Old Age reflected there!
He cries, "Alas! how quickly pass
Bright eyes, and bloom, and raven hair!"
The lord of the courser black, must ride
On the iron-grey steed, sedate and slow!
And thus to him who his power defied,
Old Age must come like a conquering foe.
Had the prosing sage not preach'd in vain,
Had Youth not written his words on sand,
Had he early paused, and given the rein
Of his courser black to a steadier hand:
Oh! just as gay might his days have been,
Though mirth with graver thoughts might blend;
And when at his side Old Age was seen,
He had been hail'd as a timely friend.