Arthur Schopenhauer. Born 22 February 1788.

(Died 21 September 1860).

On the Vanity of Existence.

from Studies in Pessimism.

Of every event in our life we can say only for one moment that it is; for ever after, that it was. Every evening we are poorer by a day. It might, perhaps, make us mad to see how rapidly our short span of time ebbs away; if it were not that in the furthest depths of our being we are secretly conscious of our share in the inexhaustible spring of eternity, so that we can always hope to find life in it again.

Considerations of the kind touched on above might indeed, lead us to embrace the belief that the greatest wisdom is to make the enjoyment of the present the supreme object of life; because that is the only reality, all else being merely the play of thought. On the other hand, such a course might just as well be called the greatest folly: for that which in the next moment exists no more, and vanishes utterly, like a dream, can never be worth a serious effort.

via written text here

Audio reading via Archive.org: Librivox

read aloud by D. E. Wittkower.

Tichborne’s Elegy.

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,

My feast of joy is but a dish of pain, 

My crop of corn is but a field of tares, 

  And all my good is but vain hope of gain.

 The day is gone and yet I saw no sun,

 And now I live, and now my life is done.


The spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung,

The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green,

My youth is gone, and yet I am but young,

I saw the world, and yet I was not seen,

My thread is cut, and yet it was not spun,

And now I live, and now my life is done.


 I sought my death and found it in my womb,

 I lookt for life and saw it was a shade,

 I trode the earth and knew it was my tomb,

 And now I die, and now I am but made.

  The glass is full, and now the glass is run,

 And now I live, and now my life is done.


- Chidiock Tichborne (1558 - 1586)