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by William Armstrong
4 Mar 2011
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Fanshawe's Riddle

Genre: Riddle Rating: 6 - Medium to Hard Source: Catherine Fanshawe
Brain Functions: Verbal Skills / Lateral Thinking Hint    Solution

'Twas in heaven pronounced, and 'twas muttered in hell,
And echo caught faintly the sound as it fell;
On the confines of earth 'twas permitted to rest,
And the depths of the ocean its presence confess'd;
'Twill be found in the sphere when 'tis riven asunder,
Be seen in the lightning and heard in the thunder;
'Twas allotted to man with his earliest breath,
Attends him at birth and awaits him at death,
Presides o'er his happiness, honour, and health,
Is the prop of his house, and the end of his wealth.
In the heaps of the miser 'tis hoarded with care,
But is sure to be lost on his prodigal heir;
It begins every hope, every wish it must bound,
With the husbandman toils, and with monarchs is crowned;
Without it the soldier, the seaman may roam,
But woe to the wretch who expels it from home!
In the whispers of conscience 'tis sure to be found,
Nor e'en in the whirlwind of passion be drowned;
'Twill not soften the heart; but, though deaf to the ear,
It will make it acutely and instantly hear.
Yet in shade let it rest like a delicate flower;
Ah! Breathe on it softly - it dies in an hour.

--Catherine Maria Fanshawe (1765-1834)

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