How soon hath time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three and twentieth year!
My hasting days fly on with full career,
But my late spring no bud or blossom sheweth.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth
That I to manhood am arrived so near,
An inward ripeness doth much less appear
That some more timely happy spirits indueth.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
It shall be still in strictest measure even
To that same lot however mean or high,
Toward which time lends me and the will of heaven.
All is, if I have grace to use it so,
As ever in my great taskmaster’s eye.