Wealth and glory, peace and power,
What are they worth to me or you?
For the lease of life runs out in an hour,
And death stands ready to claim his due,
Sounding honors or heaps of gold,
What are they all when all is told?
A pain or a pleasure, a smile or a tear,
What does it matter what we claim?
For we step from the cradle into the bier,
And a careless world goes on the same.
Hours of gladness or hours of sorrow,
What does it matter to us to-morrow?
Truth of love or vow of friend,
Tender caresses or cruel sneers,
What do they matter to us in the end?
For the brief day dies and the long night nears:
Passionate kisses or tears that fall,1
The grave will open and cover them all.
Homeless vagrant, or honored guest,
Poor and humble, or rich and great,
All are racked with the world's unrest,
All must meet with the common fate.
Life from childhood till we are old,
What is it all when all is told?
--New York Weekly
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Daughters of America. 5:2 (February, 1891).
Provided courtesy of June C. Gaskins Davis
1 Note: "that fall" is a transcription guess, the original is unclear
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