Thankless for favours from on high,
      Man thinks he fades too soon;

For the year 1792

Thankless for favours from on high,
      Man thinks he fades too soon;
Though ’tis his privilege to die,
      Would he improve the boon.

But he, not wise enough to scan
      His blest concerns aright,
Would gladly stretch life’s little span
      To ages, if he might.

To ages in a world of pain,
      To ages, where he goes
Gall’d by affliction’s heavy chain,
      And hopeless of repose.

Strange fondness of the human heart,
      Enamour’d of its harm!
Strange world, that costs it so much smart,
      And still has power to charm.

Whence has the world her magic power?
      Why deem we death a foe?
Recoil from weary life’s best hour,
      And covet longer woe?

The cause is Conscience—Conscience oft
      Her tale of guilt renews:
Her voice is terrible though soft,
      And dread of death ensues.

Then anxious to be longer spared
      Man mourns his fleeting breath:
All evils then seem light, compared
      With the approach of death.

’Tis judgment shakes him: there’s the fear
      That prompts the wish to stay:
He has incurr’d a long arrear,
      And must despair to pay.

Pay!—follow Christ, and all is paid;
      His death your peace ensures;
Think on the grave where he as laid,
      And calm descend to yours.

~ William Cowper

More Stanzas on Death
 Stanzas on Death II

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