Long Life Not To Be Desired

by Sophocles


WHO, loving life, hath sought
To outrun the appointed span,
Shall be arraigned before my thought
For an infatuate man.
Since the added years entail
Much that is bitter; -- joy
Flies out of ken, desire doth fail,
The wished-for moments cloy.
But when the troublous life,
Be it less or more, is past,
With power to end the strife
Comes rescuing Death at last.
Lo! the dark bridegroom waits! No festal choir
Shall grace his destined hour, no dance, no lyre!
Far best were ne'er to be;
But, once he hath seen the day,
Next best by far for each to flee
As swiftly as each may,
Yonder from whence he came;
For let but Youth be there
With her light fooleries, who shall name
The unnumbered brood of Care?
No trial spared, no fall!
Feuds, battles, murders, rage,
Envy, and last of all,
Despised, dim, friendless age!
Ay, there all evils, crowded in one room.
Each at his worst of ill, augments of gloom.
Such lot is mine, and round this man of woe,
As some gray headland of a northward shore
Bears buffets of all wintry winds that blow,
Fresh storms of Fate are bursting evermore
In thunderous billows, borne
Some from the waning light,
Some through mid-noon, some from the rising morn,
Some from the stars of Night.

Last updated January 14, 2019