Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE AGES, by JOHN STERLING (1806-1844)

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE AGES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: How swiftly pass a thousand years
Last Line: Its course is fix'd, its end sublime.
Subject(s): Time

HOW swiftly pass a thousand years!
And lo! they all have flow'd away,
And o'er the hardening earth appears
Green pasture mix'd with rocks of gray
And there huge monsters roll and feed,
Each frame a mass of sullen life;
Through slimy wastes and woods of reed
They crawl and tramp, and blend in strife.

How swiftly pass a thousand years!
And o'er the wide and grassy plain,
A human form the prospect cheers,
The new-sprung lord of earth's domain.
Half-clad in skins he builds the cell,
Where wife and child create a home;
To heaven he feels his spirit swell,
And owns a might beyond the dome.

How swiftly pass a thousand years!
And lo! a city and a realm;
Its weighty pile a temple rears,
And walls are bright with sword and helm:
Each man is lost amid a crowd;
Each power unknown now bears a name
And laws, and feasts, and songs are loud,
And myriads hail their monarch's fame.

How swiftly pass a thousand years!
And now beside the rolling sea,
Where many a sailor nimbly steers,
The ready tribes are bold and free.
The graceful shrine adorns the hill;
The square of council spreads below;
Their theatres a people fill,
And list to thought's impassion'd flow.

How swiftly pass a thousand years!
We live amid a sterner land,
Where laws ordain'd by ancient seers
Have train'd the soul to self-command.
There pride, and policy, and war,
With haughty fronts are gazing slow,
And bound at their trumphal car,
O'ermaster'd kings to darkness go.

How swiftly pass a thousand years!
And chivalry and faith are strong;
And through devotion's humble tears
Is seen high help for earthly wrong:
Fair gleams the cross with mystic light
Beneath an arch of woven gloom,
The burgher's pledge of civil right,
The sign that marks the monarch's tomb.

How swift the years! how great the chain
That drags along our slight to-day!
Before that sound returns again
The present will have stream'd away;
And all our world of busy strength
Will dwell in calmer halls of time,
And then with joy will own at length,
Its course is fix'd, its end sublime.

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