The Falling Stars

SHEPHERD, thou say'st there is a star
Which rules our changeful destinies:
Can mortal vision soar so far,
Or pierce such mighty mysteries?
Shepherd, 'tis said thy mind recals
The lore of grey departed seers:
say, what is yonder star which falls,
Which falls, falls, and disappears?

My son, a child of joy expired,
Yon was his star which glided by,
The friendly feast, by mirth inspired,
Has witnessed his departing sigh;
He sang of wine and beauty's thralls,
Round went his jokes and witty jeers
There is another star which falls.
Which falls, falls, and disappears!

My son, it is a star of light,
Of one beloved, and young and fair,
Preparing for her bridal night,
Wreathing white roses in her hair;
On her her frantic lover calls,
But vain his grief, and vain his tears
There is another star which falls.
Which falls, falls, and disappears!

My son, yon was the rapid star,
The suddenly extinguished gleam,
Of one just born to wealth and power,
One born to bask in fortune's beam;
He has escaped the flatterers' thralls,
The weight of guilt, the load of years
There is another star which falls,
Which falls, falls, and disappears!

My son, did'st see its guileful ray?
A monarch's favourite is no more!
Flattered in life-in death's dark day
No friends or mourners seek his door:
He was the cringing slave who crawls,
And fattens on a people's tears
There is another star which falls,
Which falls, falls, and disappears!

'Twas the last of a race of kings;
But go, my son-for thou hast seen
That wealth and power are empty things,
Which leave no trace that they have been.
Glory and fame the heart enthral,
And grandeur courts the people's cheer;
All these are only stars which fall,
Which fall, fall, and disappear.

by Charles Mackay

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