Bernard Barton ( )

A Colloquy with Myself

        As I walked by myself, I talked to myself,
	  And myself replied to me;
	And the questions myself then put to myself
	  With their answers, I give to thee.
	Put them home to thyself, and if unto thyself
	  Their responses the same should be,
	Oh! look well to thyself, and beware of thyself,
	  Or so much the worse for thee.

WHAT are riches? Hoarded treasures
  May, indeed, thy coffers fill;
Yet, like earths most fleeting pleasures,
  Leave thee poor and heartless still.

What is Pleasure? When afforded
  But by gauds that pass away,
Read its fate in lines recorded
  On the sea-sands yesterday.

What is Fashion? Ask of Folly,
  She her worth can best express.
What is moping Melancholy?	
  Go and learn of Idleness.

What is Truth? Too stern a preacher
  For the prosperous and the gay;
But a safe and wholesome teacher
  In Adversitys dark day.	

What is Friendship? If well founded,
  Like some beacons heavenward glow:
If on false pretensions grounded
  Like the treacherous sand below.

What is Love? If earthly only,	
  Like a meteor of the night
Shining but to leave more lonely
  Hearts that hailed its transient light:

But when calm, refined, and tender,
  Purified from passions stain,
Like the moon, in gentle splendour,
  Ruling oer the peaceful main.

What are Hopes? But gleams of brightness,
  Glancing darkest clouds between;
Or foam-crested waves, whose whiteness	
  Gladdens oceans darksome green.

What are Fears? Grim phantoms, throwing
  Shadows oer the pilgrims way,
Every moment darker growing,
  If we yield unto their sway.

What is Mirth? A flash of lightning,
  Followed but by deeper gloom.
Patience?More than sunshine, brightning
  Sorrows path, and labours doom.

What is Time? A river flowing
  To Eternitys vast sea;
Forward, whither all are going,
  On its bosom bearing thee.

What is Life? A bubble floating,
  On that silent, rapid stream;
Few, too few, its progress noting,
  Till it bursts, and ends the dream.

What is Death, asunder rending
  Every tie we love so well?
But the gate to life unending,	
  Joy, in heaven! or, woe in hell!

Can these truths, by repetition,
  Lose their magnitude or weight?
Estimate thine own condition,
  Ere thou pass that fearful gate.

Hast thou heard them oft repeated?
  Much may still be left to do:
Be not by profession cheated;
  Liveas if thou knewst them true.

Bernard Barton's other poems:
  1. Leiston Abbey
  2. Verses on the Gateway Still Standing at Nettlestead, Suffolk
  3. Benhall
  4. Meditations
  5. Which Things are a Shadow

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