This is a poem from the second Little Clavier Book for AnnaMagdalena Bach of which J. S. Bach is believed to be the author.
Whene'r I take my pipe and stuff it
And smoke to pass the time away
My thoughts, as I sit there and puff it,
Dwell on a picture sad and gray:
It teaches me that very like
Am I myself unto my pipe.
Like me, this pipe so fragrant burning
Is made of naught but earth and clay;
To earth I too shall be returning.
It falls and, ere I'd think to say,
It breaks in two before my eyes;
In store for me a like fate lies.
No stain the pipe's hue yet doth darken;
It remains white. Thus do I know
That when to death's call I must harken
My body, too, all pale will grow.
To black beneath the sod 'twill turn,
Likewise the pipe, if oft it burn.
Or when the pipe is fairly glowing,
Behold then, instantaneously,
The smoke off into thin air going,
Till naught but ash is left to see.
Man's fame likewise away will burn
And unto dust his body turn.
How oft it happens when one's smoking:
The stopper's missing from its shelf,
And one goes with one's finger poking
Into the bowl and burns oneself.
If in the pipe such pain doth dwell,
How host must be the pains of Hell.
Thus o'er my pipe, in contemplation
Of such things, I can constantly
Indulge in fruitful meditation,
And so, puffing contentedly,
On land, on sea, at home, abroad,
I smoke my pipe and worship God.
- J.S. Bach