William Ernest Henley

1849 - 1902 / Gloucester / England

Double Ballad Of Life And Death

Fools may pine, and sots may swill,
Cynics gibe, and prophets rail,
Moralists may scourge and drill,
Preachers prose, and fainthearts quail.
Let them whine, or threat, or wail!
Till the touch of Circumstance
Down to darkness sink the scale,
Fate’s a fiddler, Life’s a dance.

What if skies be wan and chill?
What if winds be harsh and stale?
Presently the east will thrill,
And the sad and shrunken sail
Bellying with a kindly gale,
Bear you sunwards, while your chance
Sends you back the hopeful hail: -
‘Fate’s a fiddler, Life’s a dance.’

Idle shot or coming bill,
Hapless love or broken bail,
Gulp it (never chew your pill!)
And if Burgundy should fail,
Try the humbler pot of ail!
Over all is heaven’s expanse.
Gold’s to find among the shale,
Fate’s a fiddler, Life’s a dance.
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