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THE tree of deepest root is found
Least willing still to quit the ground; 'Twas therefore said by ancient sages,
That love of life increased with years So much, that in our latter stages, When pains grow sharp, and sickness rages, The greatest love of life appears. This strong affection to believe Which all confess, but few perceive, If old assertions can't prevail, Be pleased to hear a modern tale.
When sports went round, and all were gay,
And, looking grave, "You must,” says he,
Young as I am! 'tis monstrous hard!
What more he urged I have not heard;
Yet calling up a serious look,
To give you time for preparation,
And grant a kind reprieve;
Well pleased the world will leave.”
What next the hero of our tale befell,
He chaffered, then he bought, he sold,
Nor thought of Death as near;
Old Time, whose haste no mortal spares,
Brought on his eightieth year.
When lo! one night, in musing mood,
The unwelcome messenger of fate
Half-killed with anger and surprise,
'Tis six-and-thirty years at least,
And you are now fourscore."
"So much the worse," the clown rejoined; "To spare the aged would be kind : Besides, you promised me Three Warnings, Which I have looked for nights and mornings: And for that loss of time and ease,
I can recover damages."
"I know," says Death, "that, at the best, I seldom am a welcome guest;
But don't be captious, friend, at least;
"Hold," says the farmer; "not so fast; I have been lame these four years past.
"And no great wonder," Death replies; "However, you still keep your eyes; And sure to see one's loves and friends, For legs and arms may make amends."
"Perhaps," says Dobson, "so it might, But latterly I've lost my sight."
"This is a shocking tale, in truth; Yet there's some comfort still," says Death; "Each strives your sadness to amuse; I warrant you hear all the news.' "There's none," he cries; and, if there were, I'm grown so deaf I could not hear."
"Nay then," the spectre stern rejoined,
"These are unjustifiable yearnings; If you are lame, and deaf, and blind,
You've had your three sufficient warnings;
sacrifice before the rising morn
So speaking, and by fervent love endowed
With faith, the suppliant heavenward lifts her hands; While, like the sun emerging from a cloud,
Her count'nance brightens and her eye expands; Her bosom heaves and spreads, her stature grows; And she expects the issue in repose.
O terror! what hath she perceived ?-O joy!
What doth she look on ?-whom doth she behold?
Her hero slain upon the beach of Troy?
His vital presence? his corporeal mould?
It is if sense deceive her not-'tis he!
And a god leads him-winged Mercury!
Mild Hermes spake—and touched her with his wand
Laodamia! that at Jove's command
Thy husband walks the paths of upper air;
He comes to tarry with thee three hours' space;