Byron's Egyptian witticism appears in the 7th verse of 'Middle Age'. So, for our birthday boy (see 'Bad Boy Byron' - below) and for our celebration here's that verse together with some other Byronic observations, taken from the poem:
Extracts from Middle Age
My days of love are over, me no more
The charms of maid, wife and still less of widow,
Can make the fool of which they made before,
In short, I must not lead the life I do;
The credulous hope of mutual minds is over,
The copious use of claret is forbid too
. . .
What are the hopes of man? old Egypt's King
Cheops erected the first pyramid
And largest, thinking it was just the thing
To keep his memory whole, and mummy hid;
But somebody or other rummaging,
Burglariously broke his coffin's lid:
Let not a monument give you or me hopes,
Since not a pinch of dust remains at Cheops.
But I being fond of true philosophy,
Say very often to myself, 'Alas!
All things that have been born were born to die,
And flesh (which Death mows down to hay) is grass;
You've passed your youth not so unpleasantly,
And if you had it o'er again 'twould pass -
So thank your stars that matters are no worse,
And read your Bible, sir, and mind your purse.'
The noble Lord reflected on the capricious state of his joie de vivre on his 30th birthday, January 22nd 1818, and concluded that he had best reform his ways.
P-i-R has no forbidden claret to hand for the birthday toast but fortunately there's a handy bottle of Guinness left over from Hogmanay.-