Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE COMMON LOT, by             Poem Explanation     Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Once, in the flight of ages past
Last Line: Than this, -- there lived a man!
Alternate Author Name(s): The Common Lot
Subject(s): Death; Dead, The

ONCE in the flight of ages past,
There lived a Man: -- and WHO WAS HE?
-- Mortal! howe'er thy lot be cast,
That Man resembled thee.

Unknown the region of his birth,
The land in which he died unknown:
His name has perish'd from the earth,
This truth survives alone: --

That joy and grief, and hope and fear,
Alternate triumph'd in his breast:
His bliss and wo, -- a smile, a tear!
-- Oblivion hides the rest.

The bounding pulse, the languid limb --
The changing spirits' rise and fall;
We know that these were felt by him
For these are felt by all.

He suffer'd, -- but his pangs are o'er;
Enjoy'd, -- but his delights are fled;
Had friends, -- his friends are now no more;
And foes, -- his foes are dead.

He loved, -- but whom he loved, the grave
Hath lost in its unconscious womb,
Oh she was fair -- but naught could save
Her beauty from the tomb.

He saw whatever thou hast seen;
Encounter'd all that troubles thee;
He was -- whatever thou hast been;
He is -- what thou shalt be.

The rolling seasons, day and night,
Sun, moon, and stars, the earth and main,
Erewhile his portion, life and light
To him exist in vain.

The clouds and sunbeams, o'er his eye
That once their shades and glory threw,
Have left in yonder silent sky
No vestige where they flew.

The annals of the human race,
Their ruins, since the world began
Of HIM afford no other trace
Than this, -- THERE LIVED A MAN!

Discover our Poem Explanations and Poet Analyses!

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net