Fleetwoods, young generous pair

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General information

This is a poem by Isaac Watts, 1706, from Horae Lyricae, Book 2, No. 12; entitled To Mr. C. and S. Fleetwood. The fourth stanza is more often used (sometimes in altered form), because it is more metric.

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Text and translations

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Fleetwoods, young generous pair,
Despise the joys that fools pursue;
Bubbles are light and brittle too.
Born of the water and the air.
Tried by a standard, bold and just.
Honour and gold, and paint and dust;
How vile the last is, and as vain the first!
Things that the crowd call great and brave,
With me how low their value's brought!
Titles and names, and life and breath,
Slaves to the wind, and born for death;
The soul's the only thing we have
Worth an important thought.

The soul! 'tis of the immortal kind,
Nor formed of fire, or earth, or wind.
Outlives the mouldering corpse, and leaves the globe behind.
In limbs of clay though she appears,
Arrayed in rosy skin, and decked with ears and eyes.
The flesh is but the soul's disguise.
There's nothing in her frame 'kin to the dress she wears.
From all the laws of matter free,
From all we feel, and all we see,
She stands eternally distinct, and must forever be.

 

Rise then, my thoughts, on high,
Soar beyond all that 's made to die;
Lo! on an awful throne
Sits the Creator and the Judge of souls.
Whirling the planets round the poles,
Winds off our threads of life, and brings our periods on.
Swift the approach, and solemn is the day,
When this immortal mind,
Stripped of the body's coarse array,
To endless pain, or endless joy,
Must be at once consigned.

Think of the sands run down to waste.
We possess none of all the past,
None but the present is our own;
Grace is not placed within our power,
'Tis but one short, one shining hour,
Bright and declining as a setting sun.
See the white minutes, winged with haste;
The now that flies may be the last;
Seize the salvation e'er 'tis past.
Nor mourn the blessing gone:
A thought's delay is ruin here,
A closing eye, a gasping breath,
Shuts up the golden scene in death,
And drowns you in despair.

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