Edward Young

1683 - 1765


The Complaint,

or Night Thoughts

on Life, Time, Friendship,

Death, and Immortality:


In Nine Nights






Sunt lachrymae rerum,

et mentem mortalia tangunt.





As the occasion of this poem was real, not fictitious; so the method pursued in it was rather imposed by what spontaneously arose in the author's mind on that occasion, than meditated or designed: which will appear very probable from the nature of it; for it differs from the common mode of poetry, which is from long narrations to draw short morals. Here, on the contrary, the narrative is short, and the morality arising from it makes the bulk of the poem. The reason of it is, that the facts mentioned did naturally pour these moral reflections on the thought of the writer.*




* The Night Thoughts were originally published in separate quarto pamphlets, one Night in each, at intervals of six or eight months, from the year 1741 to 1745. No introduction was prefixed to any of the first three Nights; but the Fourth had one; and when the author collected the best of his Works, and published them in four volumes, he transferred this paragraph from the Fourth Night to the First, as a brief preface to the whole of the Night Thoughts.—Edit.