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All Things Shall Pass Away

From the Newark Evening Star, June 15, 1914. By Theodore Tilton.

Once in Persia reigned a king,
Who upon his signet ring
‘Graved a maxim true and wise,
Which, if held before the eyes,
Gave him counsel at a glance
Fit for every change and chance.
Solemn words, and these were they:
“Even this shall pass away.”

Trains of camels through the sand
Brought him gems from Samarcand;
Fleets of galleys through the seas
Brought him pearls to match with these.
But he counted not his gain
Treasures of the mine or main.
“What is wealth?” the king would say:
“Even this shall pass away.”

In the revels of his court,
At the zenith of the sport,
When the palms of all his guests
Burned with clapping at his jests,
He, amid the figs and wine,
Cried, “O loving friends of mine;
Pleasure comes, but not to stay;
‘Even this shall pass away.’”

Lady, fairest ever seen,
Was the bride he crowned the queen.
Pillowed on his marriage bed,
Softly to his soul he said:
“Though no bridegroom ever pressed
Fairer bossom to his breast,
Mortal flesh must come to clay –
Even this shall pass away.”

Fighting on a furious field,
Once a javelin pierced his shield.
Soldiers, with a loud lament,
Bore him bleeding to his tent;
Groaning from his tortured side,
“Pain is hard to bear,” he cried;
“But with patience, day by day,
Even this shall pass away.”

Towering in the public square,
Twenty cubits in the air,
‘Rose his statue, carved in stone.
Then the king, disguised, unknown,
Stood before his sculptured name,
Musing meekly, “What is fame?
Fame is but a slow decay—
Even this shall pass away.”

Struck with palsy, sere and old,
Waiting at the gates of gold,
Said he, with his dying breath:
“Life is done, but what is Death?”
Then, in answer to the king,
Fell a sunbeam on his ring,
Showing by a heavenly ray:
“Even this shall pass away.”

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