On the arduous life of humankind
The start, the middle and the close
Of human life so fleeting
Are all beset with fear and woes,
Regret, grief, cares unceasing.
Though each design at first seems fine,
’Tis but a vain illusion,
If viewed without confusion,
’Tis all misfortune’s shrine.
Our earthly life each single day
Is nought but dust and ashes.
Like sheep that in their fields do stray
We dart in frantic dashes
On savage wave – in peril grave
Both sail and anchor lacking
Around the cauldron tacking
Though Fortune would us save.
Our every action is forlorn
In futile toil we languish,
’Twixt hope and doubt we here are torn,
But live in constant anguish.
All woes that rend death first can end
Whereas all joy that cheers
Within this vale of tears
The will of God contends.
Should we decide to set things straight,
Our former life to chasten
It in some measure expiate
Then we must start to hasten.
A fruit so great, that grown by Fate,
Is what the Sister shows us:
That death its due won’t owe us
No flight can obviate.
Fame, profit, gain are nothing worth,
All is from nothing coming;
And all that’s come therefrom on earth
Will back thereto be homing.
Wherefore it might be more than right
Had man as man ne’er started
Since once his life is charted
His time on earth’s so slight.