Humanist Voices in Verse: “Ecclesiastes” by Frank S. Robinson

This week we’re pleased to publish a new poem “Ecclesiastes” by Frank S. Robinson.

Frank S. Robinson is a retired New York State administrative law judge, a rare coin dealer, and author of five books, most recently The Case for Rational Optimism. He is married to the poet Therese Broderick, and blogs at

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to with “Poetry” in the subject line. Please send no more than three poems for consideration per week.


All is vanity, Ecclesiastes said:

The cosmic meaning of our lives is none;

Nor is there any life ahead,

Where all injustice is undone.

We are food that worms will eat,

With no greater glory in store

Than for those worms beneath our feet;

Nothing but oblivion forever more.

That’s what Ecclesiastes wrote.

So why wasn’t it a suicide note?

Because that writer wasn’t glum,

He had the antidote:

A plum.

Dripping with sweetness and flavor,

That, even if doomed, today we can savor,

Like the love of sons and daughters,

And blue skies and blue waters,

Music, dancing, funny stories,

Daffodils and morning glories.

Of course not all is pleasing;

“To everything there is a season:”

A time to sow and a time to reap,

A time for joy, a time to weep.

We can only live these lives of ours,

Make what we can of their days and hours;

When shining sun precedes the night,

Let us drink up its warmth and light.

The grave is lonely, dark and deep;

Let’s laugh and play before we sleep.

—Frank S. Robinson