Hanging by a thread


I was taken by this verse on a gravestone I came across in South Leith Parish Church. It reads:

The spider’s most attenuated thread
Is cord, is cable, to man’s tender tie
On earthly bliss; it breaks at every breeze.

The grave belongs to Mrs Janet Burns who died on the 15th June 1812.

I’ve tracked the poet down as Edward Young, (1683 – April 5, 1765).

He is best known for Night Thoughts (1742) from which this verse us taken. Long after his reputation has faded he lives on in unattributed quotations, such as “Procrastination is the Thief of Time.”

William Blake was commissioned to illustrate the poem in 1795.
 

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