How soon doth man decay! When clothes are taken from a chest of sweets To swaddle infants, whose young breath Scarce knows the way; Those clouts are little winding-sheets, Which do consign and send them unto Death.
When boyes go first to bed, They step into their voluntarie graves; Sleep binds them fast; onely their breath Makes them not dead: Successive nights, like rolling waves, Convey them quickly who are bound for Death.
When Youth is frank and free, And calls for musick, while his veins do swell, All day exchanging mirth and breath In companie, That musick summons to the knell Which shall befriend him at the house of Death.
When man grows staid and wise, Getting a house and home, where he may move Within the circle of his breath, Schooling his eyes, That dumbe inclosure maketh love Unto the coffin, that attends his death.
When Age grows low and weak, Marking his grave, and thawing ev'ry year, Till all do melt and drown his breath When he would speak, A chair or litter shows the biere Which shall convey him to the house of Death.
Man, ere he is aware, Hath put together a solemnitie, And drest his hearse, while he has breath As yet to spare; Yet, Lord, instruct us so to die, That all these dyings may be LIFE in DEATH.