"We bleed, we tremble; we forget, we smile: / The mind turns fool before the cheek is dry. / Our quick-returning folly cancels all; / As the tide rushing rases what is writ / In yielding sands, and smooths the letter'd shore."
— Young, Edward (bap. 1683, d. 1765)
Or worse, o'erlook'd; o'erlook'd by magistrates,
Thus criminals themselves. I grant the deed
Is madness; but the madness of the heart.
And what is that? Our utmost bound of guilt.
A sensual, unreflecting life is big
With monstrous births, and Suicide, to crown
The black infernal brood. The bold to break
Heaven's law supreme, and desperately rush
Through sacred Nature's murder on their own,
Because they never think of death, they die.
'Tis equally man's duty, glory, gain,
At once to shun and meditate his end.
When by the bed of languishment we sit,
(The seat of wisdom! if our choice, not fate,)
Or o'er our dying friends in anguish hang,
Wipe the cold dew, or stay the sinking head,
Number their moments, and in every clock
Start at the voice of an eternity;
See the dim lamp of life just feebly lift
An agonizing beam, at us to gaze,
Then sink again, and quiver into death,
That most pathetic herald of our own:---
How read we such sad scenes? as sent to man
In perfect vengeance? No; in pity sent,
To melt him down, like wax, and then impress,
Indelible, Death's image on his heart;
Bleeding for others, trembling for himself.
We bleed, we tremble; we forget, we smile:
The mind turns fool before the cheek is dry.
Our quick-returning folly cancels all;
As the tide rushing rases what is writ
In yielding sands, and smooths the letter'd shore.
(ll. 483-515, pp. 129-130 in CUP edition)
See The Complaint. Or, Night-Thoughts on Life Death, & Immortality. Night the Fifth. (London: R. Dodsley, 1743). <Link to ECCO>
Text from The Complete Works, Poetry and Prose, of the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., 2 vols. (London: William Tegg, 1854). <Link to Google Books>
Reading Edward Young, Night Thoughts, ed. Stephen Cornford (New York: Cambridge UP, 1989).