Of man’s miraculous mistakes, this bears
The palm, “That all men are about to live,”
For ever on the brink of being born.
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel; and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise,
At least their own; their future selves applauds;
How excellent that life they ne’er will lead!
Time lodged in their own hands is folly’s vails;
That lodged in Fate’s, to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can’t but purpose they postpone.
‘T is not in folly not to scorn a fool;
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage: when young, indeed,
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves; and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty, man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty, chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal.
All men think all men mortal but themselves;
A few lines from the international bestseller, The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death & Immortality. Night I. On life, death, and immortality, by Edward Young, published in nine parts 1742-45.