Vanity Of Vanities

Be ye happy, if ye may,
In the years that pass away.
Ye shall pass and be forgot,
And your place shall know you not.

Other generations rise,
With the same hope in their eyes
That in yours is kindled now,
And the same light on their brow.

They shall see the selfsame sun
That your eyes now gaze upon,
They shall breathe the same sweet air,
And shall reck not who ye were.

Yet they too shall fade at last
In the twilight of the past,
They and you alike shall be
Lost from the world's memory.

Then, while yet ye breathe and live,
Drink the cup that life can give.
Be ye happy, if ye may,
In the years that pass away,

Ere the golden bowl be broken,
Ere ye pass and leave no token,
Ere the silver cord be loosed,
Ere ye turn again to dust.

`And shall this be all,' ye cry,
`But to eat and drink and die?
If no more than this there be,
Vanity of vanity!'

Yea, all things are vanity,
And what else but vain are ye?
Ye who boast yourselves the kings
Over all created things.

Kings! whence came your right to reign?
Ye shall be dethroned again.
Yet for this, your one brief hour,
Wield your mockery of power.

Dupes of Fate, that treads you down
Wear awhile your tinsel crown
Be ye happy, if ye may,
In the years that pass away.

by Robert Fuller Murray

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