Is this a life, to break thy sleep,
To rise as soon as day doth peep?
To tire thy patient ox or ass
By noon, and let thy good days pass,
Not knowing this, that Jove decrees
Some mirth, t' adulce man's miseries?
--No; 'tis a life to have thine oil
Without extortion from thy soil;
Thy faithful fields to yield thee grain,
Although with some, yet little pain;
To have thy mind, and nuptial bed,
With fears and cares uncumbered
A pleasing wife, that by thy side
Lies softly panting like a bride;
--This is to live, and to endear
Those minutes Time has lent us here.
Then, while fates suffer, live thou free,
As is that air that circles thee;
And crown thy temples too; and let
Thy servant, not thy own self, sweat,
To strut thy barns with sheaves of wheat.
--Time steals away like to a stream,
And we glide hence away with them:
No sound recalls the hours once fled,
Or roses, being withered;
Nor us, my friend, when we are lost,
Like to a dew, or melted frost.
--Then live we mirthful while we should,
And turn the iron age to gold;
Let's feast and frolic, sing and play,
And thus less last, than live our day.
Whose life with care is overcast,
That man's not said to live, but last;
Nor is't a life, seven years to tell,
But for to live that half seven well;
And that we'll do, as men who know,
Some few sands spent, we hence must go,
Both to be blended in the urn,
From whence there's never a return.
Top Robert Herrick Poems