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Death Levels All*


Thomas Blacklock

One night I dream’d, and dreams may oft prove true,
That to this foolish world I bade adieu.
With solemn rites, and decent grief deplored,
My friends to mother earth her gift restor’d.
But O! eternal insult to my shade,
Close by a vile plebeian corse was laid!
Enrag’d, confin’d, I try’d to shift my ground;
141 But all attempts were unsuccessful found
“Begone, gross lump,” I cry’d in high disdain,
“No slave of abject birth shall here remain.
Be distant far, to nobler names give way,
And mix with vulgar dust thy sordid clay.”
“Thou fool, thou wretch!” a hollow voice reply’d,
“Now learn the impotence of wealth and pride;
Hereditary names and honors, here,
With all their farce and tinsel, disappear.
In these dark realms Death’s reptile heralds trace
From one sole origin all human race:
On all the line one equal lot attends:
From dust it rises and to dust descends.
Her pale Ambition, quitting pomp and form,
Admits her last — best counsellor, a worm.
Here Nature’s charter stands confirm’d, alone;
The grave is less precarious than the throne.
Then seek not here preeminence and state,
But own and bless th’ impartial will of Fate;
With life, its errors and its whims resign,
Nor think a beggar’s title worse than thine.”

* From Living Thoughts in Words that Burn from Poet, Sage, and Humorist, Edited by Daphne Dale; 1891] Reprinted as Classic Gems of Prose and Poetry; Chicago Star Publishing Company; [no date]; pp. 140-141.

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