On an Hour-glass
by John Hall
My life is measur’d by this glasse, this glass
By all those little Sands that thorough passe
See how they presse, see how they strive, which shall
With greatest speed speed and greatest quicknesse fall
See how they raise a little Mount, and then
With their owne weight doe levell it agen.
But then th’have all got thorough, they give o’re
Their nimble sliding downe, and move no more.
Just such is man whose houres still forward run,
Being almost finsht ere they are begun,
So perfect nothings, such light blasts are we,
That ere w’are ought at all, we cease to be.
Do what we will, our hasty minutes fly,
And while we sleep what do we else but die?
How transient are our Joyes, how short their days!
They creepe on towards us, but flie away
How stinging are our sorrows! where they gaine
But the least footing there they will remaine
How groundless are our hopes, how they deceive
Our childish thoughts, and onely sorrow leave!
How real are our feares! they blast us still,
Stil rend us, still with gnawing passions fill;
How senseless are our wishes, yet how great!
With that toile we pursue them with that sweat!
Yet most times for our hurts so small we see,
Like Children crying for some mercurie,
This gapes for Marriage, yet his fickle head
Knows not what cares waite on a Marriage bed.
This woves Virginity, yet knows not what
Lonenesse, griefe, discontent, attends that state.
Desires of wealth anothers wishes hold
And yet how many have been choak’d with Gold?
This onely hunts for honour yet whop shall
Ascend the higher, shall more wretched fall.
This thirsts for knowledge, yet how is it bought?
With many a sleeplesse night and racking though?
This needs will travel, yet how dangers lay
Most secret Ambuscado’s in the way?
These triumph in their Beaty, though it shall
Like a pluck’t Rose or fading Little fall.
Another hoasts strong armes, las Giants have
by silly Dwarfes been drag’d unto their grave.
These ruffle in rich silke, though ne’re so gay.
A well plum’d Peacock is more gay thatn they.
Poore man, what art! A Tennis ball of Errour,
A ship of Glasse, toss’d in a Sea of terrour,
Issuing in blood and sorrow from the wombe,
Crauling in tears and mounting to the tombe,
How slippery are thy pathes, how sure thy fall,
How art thou Nothing when th’art most of all!