What is Time? by Rev. J. Marsden

Letter I.

I ask'd an aged man, a man of cares,

Wrinkled and curved, and white with hoary hairs:

"Time is the warp of life," he said; "Oh tell

The young, the fair, the gay, to weave 't well!"

I ask'd the ancient, venerable dead—

Sages who wrote, and warriors who bled:

From the cold grave a hollow murmur flow'd—

"Time sow'd the seed we reap in this abode!"

I ask'd a dying sinner, ere the tide

Of life had left his veins: "Time?" he replied,

"I've lost it! Ah, the treasure!" and he died.

I ask'd the golden sun and silver spheres,

Those bright chronometers of days and years:

They answer'd: "Time is but a meteor's glare,"

And bade me for Eternity prepare.

I ask'd the Seasons, in their annual round,

Which beautify or desolate the ground;

And they replied (no oracle more wise):

"'Tis Folly's blank, and Wisdom's highest prize!"

I ask'd a spirit lost, but oh! the shriek

That pierced my soul! I shudder while I speak.

It cried, "A particle! a speck! a mite

Of endless years—duration infinite!"

Of things inanimate, my dial I

Consulted, and it made me this reply:

"Time is the season fair of living well—

The path of glory, or the path of hell."

I ask'd my Bible, and methinks it said:

"Time is the present hour—the past is fled:

Live! live to-day; to-morrow never yet

On any human being rose or set."

I ask'd old Father Time himself at last,

But in a moment he flew swiftly past—

His chariot was a cloud, the viewless wind

His noiseless steeds, which left no trace behind.

I ask'd the mighty Angel who shall stand

One foot on sea, and one on solid land;

"By Heaven!" he cried, "I swear the mystery's o'er;

Time was," he cried, "but time shall be no more!"

Rev. J. Marsden.