Bocage’s Penitential Sonnet by William Cullen Bryant

Bocage’s Penitential Sonnet, from the Portuguese of Manoel de Barbosa do Bocage, was retrieved from the anthology, Gifts of Genius: A Miscellany of Poetry and Prose by American Authors (1859).
I’ve seen my life, without a noble aim,
In the mad strife of passions waste away.
Fool that I was! to live as if decay
Would spare the vital essence in my frame!
And Hope, whose flattering dreams are now my shame,
Showed years to come, a long and bright array,
Yet all too soon my nature sinks a prey
To the great evil that with being came.
Pleasures, my tyrants! now your reign is past:
My soul, recoiling, casts you off to lie
In that abyss where all deceits are cast.
Oh God! may life’s last moments, as they fly,
Win back what years have lost, that he, at last,
Who knew not how to live, may learn to die.


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