25 February 2010

Goldman To Advise Greece On the Sale of Strategic Assets to Avert Debt Crisis

And then come the jackals...

Note: obviously this is a cartoon, and Greece is not selling the Parthenon, yet.

But it does carry a more serious sentiment that was known in English literature as 'tragic transcience,' at least when I studied it in university. It may best be embodied in the renaissance poem "A Litany in Time of Plague" by Thomas Nashe which goes "Beauty is but a flower, Which wrinkles will devour; Brightness falls from the air; Queens have died young and fair; Dust hath closed Helen's eye, I am sick, I must die, Lord have mercy on us.”

Here is a later expression of this same thought that I most recently came across again in a short poem by Rudyard Kipling titled "Recessional."

"Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget!"

Rudyard Kipling
How are the mighty fallen...

And then of course there is Shelley's classic--

"I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away."

Ozymandias, Percy Bysshe Shelley