Human Frailty


Salvator Rosa, 1615 – 1673
L’Umana Fragilita, c.1656 (human frailty)
Conception is a sin, Birth is pain, Life is toil, Death a necessity

~human frailty~


Weak and irresolute is man;

The purpose of to-day,

Woven with pains into his plan,

To-morrow rends away.

The bow well bent, and smart the spring,

Vice seems already slain;

But passion rudely snaps the string,

And it revives again.

Some foe to his upright intent

Finds out his weaker part;

Virtue engages his assent,

But Pleasure wins his heart.

‘Tis here the folly of the wise

Through all his art we view;

And, while his tongue the charge denies,

His conscience owns it true.

Bound on a voyage of awful length

And dangers little known,

A stranger to superior strength,

Man vainly trusts his own.

But oars alone can ne’er prevail

To reach the distant coast;

The breath of Heaven must swell the sail,

Or all the toil is lost.

William Cowper

(who suffered from depression his whole life)

3 responses »

  1. Jesus, where’er thy people mee,
    There they behold they mercy-seat;
    Where’er they seek the thou art found,
    and ev’ry place is hallow’d ground.

    For thou, within no walls confin’d,
    Inhabitest the humble mind;
    Such ever bring thee, where they come,
    And going, take thee to their home.

    Thanks for the great Cowper! You made me take him off the shelf.

  2. As a poorly practicing Calvinist I must say that I have a weakness for the puritans also. Cowper especially. I know where he is on my poetry shelf at all times. Very extreme and dramatic imagery.

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