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What art thou, Life? The shadow of a dream:
The past and future dwell in thought alone;
The present, ere we note its flight, is gone;
And all ideal, vain, fantastick, seem.
Whence is thy source! And whither dost thou tend!
So short thy period, and thy form so frail;
Poor prisoner! pent in Death's surrounding vale,
Born but to breathe, to suffer, and to end.
Why, Shadow, bring'st thou on thy raven wing
Dark trains of grief, and visions of the night,
Rather than graces, robed in purple light,
Elysian flowers, and love's unclouded spring;
Since sad, or gay, whatever be thy theme,
Death surely ends at once the dreamer and the dream!

This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.