As one who bears beneath his neighbor’s roof
Some thrust that staggers his unready wit,
And brooding through the night on such reproof
Too late conceives the apt reply to it;
So all our life is but an afterthought,
A puzzle solved long past the time of need,
And tardy wisdom that one failure bought
Finds no occasion to be used in deed.
Fate harries us; we answer not a word,
Or answering too late, we waste our breath;
Not even a belated quip is heard
From those who bore the final taunt of death;
And thus the Jester parries all retort:
His jest eternal, and our lives so short.