O happier half of days decreed to me,
My early years, so soon you passed away:
Few were the flowers that blossomed on that tree,
And they, scarce budded, fell into decay.
Few were the rays of hope that I could see,
And storms would often rage in wild array;
Still, for my youth, dark though thy dawn may be,
My heart will ever cry, God be with thee!
Too soon the fruits of knowledge did I eat!
Where dripped their poison, faded all delight:
I saw how honesty and truth could meet
Among the human kind with scorn and spite.
I sought true love - an empty dream and fleet,
Which disappeared as dawn broke into light!
And wisdom, justice and the learned mind
Were dowerless maids - no suitors could they find.
I saw how those who are not loved by fate
Their ship in vain against the wind may steer;
The one who is not born to high estate
Shall see no Fortune at his cradle appear;
I saw how fame is purchased at the rate
Of current cash - no price too high, too dear;
I saw in glory's and in honour's seat
All that beguiles men's minds with lies, deceit.
These sights and others uglier by far
Burned in my heart till cruelly it bled;
Yet thoughts like these the joys of youth will bar