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Classic Riddle

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One of my favs from college - sorry if it's been posted before:

'Twas whispered in Heaven, 'twas muttered in hell,

And echo caught faintly the sound as it fell;

On the confines of earth 'twas permitted to rest,

And in the depths of the ocean its presence confes'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, honor 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 and seaman may roam,

But woe to the wretch who expels it from home!

In the whispers of conscience its voice will be found,

Nor e'er in the whirlwind of passion be drowned;

'Twill soften the heart; but though deaf be the ear,

It will make him acutely and instantly hear.

Set in shade, let it rest like a delicate flower;

Ah! Breathe on it softly, it dies in an hour.

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