A thousand years shall come and go, A thousand years of night and day, And man, through all their changing show, His tragic drama still shall play. Ruled by some fond ideal's power, Cheated by passion or despair, Still shall he waste life's trembling hour, In worship vain, and useless prayer. Ah! where are they who rose in might, Who fired the temple and the shrine, And hurled, through earth's chaotic night, The helpless gods it deemed divine? Cease, longing soul, thy vain desire! What idol, in its stainless prime, But falls, untouched of axe or fire, Before the steady eyes of Time. He looks, and lo! our altars fall, The shrine reveals its gilded clay, With decent hands we spread the pall, And, cold with wisdom, glide away. Oh! where were courage, faith, and truth, If man went wandering all his day In golden clouds of love and youth, Nor knew that both his steps betray? Come, Time, while here we sit and wait, Be faithful, spoiler, to thy trust! No death can further desolate The soul that knows its god was dust.
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