Meaning & Comfort In Ephemerality & Change

IN MEMORIAM: September 11, 2001
Our world changed beginning at 8:46:30 EDT

* * * * * * * *.*


by: Lucretius (c. 99-55 B.C.)
    translated by W. H. Mallock

No single thing abides; but all things flow.
Fragment to fragment clings–the things thus grow
Until we know and name them. By degrees
They melt, and are no more the things we know.
Globed from the atoms falling slow or swift
I see the suns, I see the systems lift
Their forms; and even the systems and the suns
Shall go back slowly to the eternal drift.
Thou soo, oh earth–thine empires, lands, and seas–
Least, with thy stars, of all the galaxies,
Globed from the drift like these, like these thou too
Shalt go. Thou art going, hour by hour, like these.
Nothing abides. The seas in delicate haze
Go off; those moonéd sands forsake their place;
And where they are, shall other seas in turn
Mow with their scythes of whiteness other bays.
Lo, how the terraced towers, and monstrous round
Of league-long ramparts rise from out the ground,
With gardens in the clouds. Then all is gone,
And Babylon is a memory and a mound.
Observe this dew-drenched rose of Tyrian grain–
A rose today. But you will ask in vain
Tomorrow what it is; and yesterday
It was the dust, the sunshine and the rain.
This bowl of milk, the pitch on yonder jar,
Are strange and far-bound travelers come from far
THis is a snow-flake that was once a flame–
The flame was once the fragment of a star.
Round, angular, soft, brittle, dry, cold, warm,
Things are their qualities: things are their form–
And these in combination, even as bees,
Not singly but combined, make up the swarm:
And when the qualities like bees on wing,
Having a moment clustered, cease to cling,
As the thing dies without its qualities,
So die the qualities without the thing.
Where is the coolness when no cool winds blow?
Where is the music when the lute lies low?
Are not the redness and the red rose one,
And the snow’s whiteness one thing with the snow?
Even so, now mark me, here we reach the goal
Of Science, and in little have the whole–
Even as the redness and the rose are one,
So with the body one thing is the soul.
For, as our limbs and organs all unite
to make our sum of suffering and delight,
And without eyes and ears and touch and tongue,
Were no such things as taste and sound and sight.
So without these we all in vain shall try
To find the things that gives them unity–
The thing to which each whispers, “Thou art thou”–
The soul which answers each, “And I am I.”
What! shall the dateless worlds in dust be blown
Back to the unremembered and unknown,
And this frail Thou–this flame of yesterday–
Burn on, forlorn, immortal, and alone?
Did Nature, in the nurseries of the night
Tend it for this–Nature whose heedless might,
Casts, like some shipwrecked sailor, the poor babe,
Naked and bleating on the shores of light?
What is it there? A cry is all it is.
It knows not if its limbs be yours or his.
Less than that cry the babe was yesterday.
The man tomorrow shall be less than this.
Tissue by tissue to a soul he grows,
As leaf by leaf the rose becomes the rose.
Tissue from tissue rots; and, as the Sun
Goes from the bubbles when they burst, he goes.
Ah, mark those pearls of Sunrise! Fast and free
Upon the waves they are dancing. Souls shall be
Things that outlast their bodies, when each spark
Outlasts its wave, each wave outlasts the sea.
The seeds that once were we take flight and fly,
Winnowed to earth, or whirled along the sky,
Not lost but disunited. Life lives on.
It is the lives, the lives, the lives, that die.
They go beyond recapture and recall,
Lost in the all-indissoluble All:–
Gone like the rainbow from the fountain’s foam,
Gone like the spindrift shuddering down the squall.
Flakes of the water, on the waters cease!
Soul of the body, melt and sleep like these.
Atoms to atoms–weariness to rest–
Ashes to ashes–hopes and fears to peace!
Oh Science, lift aloud thy voice that stills
The pulse of fear, and through the conscience thrills–
Thrills through the conscience the news of peace–
How beautiful thy feet are on the hills!



33 Responses

  1. NES- wow- I had never read that- beautiful and profound.
    Thank you.
    Let’s all pause a moment today. And remember.

  2. I, too, have never read this. NES, thank you for posting this memorium.

  3. Nor have I, but I’m glad you posted it, NES. Thanks.

  4. Beautiful. Thank you, NES, for sharing.

  5. Thanks for sentiments, guys! But, really the thanks go to Upps, who indirectly inspired me to post this. She and I were going through the exercise of tweeting out Ozymandias, 140 characters at a time. She then tweeted the first lines of this poem as a “challenge” I may want to take. That Uppity!! In any event, I read the poem (hadn’t before), loved it, and tweeted to her that it held an important political lesson. She tweeted back that it also holds an important LIFE lesson, which is of course true…the more so on the anniversary of 9/11, when life and it’s ephemerality are put in such stark relief.

    So, enjoy the poem as a gift from UW.

  6. Then thanks for your teamwork!

  7. Now we get a gift from UW? Isn’t she already a gift? Since she isn’t here I have decided to break into the liquor cabinet, top shelf, and hand out the Glenlivet, Glenmorangie and that Glenfiddich stuff. No sense in letting those bottles get all dusty. She won’t mind considering it is 9/11 and we were left all alone without her adult supervision and all.


    It goes well with the leftover Chicken Vesuvius, Ribs and meatloaf from the UW fridge that was left unguarded, btw.

  8. ROFL karen! Cheers.

  9. Fitting NES. Thank you.

  10. Please recognize and remember the brave women of Ground Zero.

  11. Thx mcn. XO

  12. Energy does not die. Atoms do not die. They are reconstructed into something else. Maybe Uppity is trying to tell us that the spirit and energy in this blog will live on, but in a different form.

    You may write me down in history
    With your bitter, twisted lies,
    You may tread me in the very dirt
    But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

  13. I get it imust. Rise Uppity Rise!

  14. This was beautiful, NES thanks to you and to Uppity.
    And Karen, I hadn’t heard of Glenfiddich until a bit ago. I’m not a drinker and the liquor in my house has been here decades, with nary a drop spilled (or poured). But when my bro introduced me to that Glenfiddich, wow. It’s good, so when you start pouring let me know.


  15. Yes, Imust, and – Rise, Women, Rise!

  16. Come, Rest Awhile

    Come, rest awhile, and let us idly stray
    In glimmering valleys, cool and far away.

    Come from the greedy mart, the troubled street,
    And listen to the music, faint and sweet,

    That echoes ever to a listening ear,
    Unheard by those who will not pause to hear­

    The wayward chimes of memory’s pensive bells,
    Wind-blown o’er misty hills and curtained dells.

    One step aside and dewy buds unclose
    The sweetness of the violet and the rose;

    Song and romance still linger in the green,
    Emblossomed ways by you so seldom seen,

    And near at hand, would you but see them, lie
    All lovely things beloved in days gone by.

    You have forgotten what it is to smile
    In your too busy life­ come, rest awhile.
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

  17. Hahahaha Leslie. Welcome.

  18. Hey Swan!

    That’s a lovely piece — very apropos for this Great Room.

  19. I think imust has grasped the nettle of it.

  20. True story that happened today when I was at the home of someone I know (who lost his wife eight months ago.)

    Phone rings, he answers and it’s a male solicitor asking for clothing donations:

    Solicitor: Is Mrs. ____ there?

    Husband: No, she passed away several months ago.

    Solicitor: Oh, Um, do you think she would want to donate some of her clothing articles for our clothing drive?

    Husband: Looks at phone dumbfounded, pauses, then says: Well, I don’t know, let me ask her.

    Solicitor: Oh, okay.

    Husband: Sorry, she said that she donated all of her clothes shortly after she passed away and her last wish is for you to take her off of your solicitation list.

    Solicitor: Yes Sir. Sure will. Click.

    (Well, I can say that it was the best laugh we’ve had since her death. In fact, by the time he repeated the whole exchange, we were howling!)

  21. Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but Mutability.

    –Shelley, Mutability

  22. Excellent tribute (“IN MEMORIAM”) NES.

    (I’ve read it several times now – and each time, it strikes the bell of lament)

  23. Uppity, you were, are right.

    – Women are simply not a part of the “Equality = Rights = Laws” equation in America’s Two Party, Male Religious-Turned-Political System

    – The decline in Middle Class America continues under the same Two Party, Male Dominated, Political System – “The typical US household saw its income fall last year to 1989 levels.”

    – Our Embassies are now being attacked by Islamic “factions” – birthed from a Male Dominated, Religious-Turned-Political System

    – Obama snubs Israel – while Iran continues to build its Nuclear Weaponry – so they can blow Israel and us out of their way in their quest for Islamic World Dominance by a Religious-Turned-Political System

    Learned Helplessness – Why bother?

    – The person has to become inappropriately passive, and
    – This change has to follow exposure to prolonged uncontrollable events, and
    – There is a change in the way the person thinks about their ability to control similar future events.

    Have they won?

    We are Americans.

  24. “We Are Americans.”
    So, how much longer are we to “endure” all of this?

    Just asking.

  25. …Just asking someone who has inspired me to look my own “Learned Helplessness” square in the eye and ask: “How is this working out for you?”

  26. Why Not, I’ve watched over the last 30 years everything I fought for being diluted by ……men and women who want to keep women in their place and keep gays in the closet. I have been disheartened, and almost succumbed to despair, but then I remember that I have young men and women relying on me to keep educating and fighting for them. I guess that’s the only triumph I can lay claim to, because what I did in the 60’s has been totally trashed in political venal gerrymandering. However, I remember my mother and grandmother fighting for the rights of women, and my sisters as well, and I remember, this is the good fight. We can never give up, ever, because if we do, all is lost. Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale will become reality.

  27. Watched the Maddow clip. Interesting but perplexing – or not.

    Maddow quickly and credibly connects the dots – that Al Qaeda is not only on the move through this recently liberated country, but can so easily incite anti-American uprisings, destroy missions (embassies) and even disrupt educational institutions on American soil (two Universities in one day)?

    Nevertheless, this obscure “offensive, anti-Islamic video” remains not only the focal point in this Administration’s denouncement, but MSM talking points, as cause and effect?

    Here’s the “cause and effect.” Obama was elected, as savior to the world and mender of Bush-Cheney policies

    Hired one of the most admired and respected leaders in the world to carry out his naive “let’s talk and be friends, brothers and good neighbors policy” and four years later…

    “One Nation Under Islam” is dominating the “Freedom of Islamic Religion, Islamic Speech and Islamic Terrorism” narrative.

    But, the Woman in the video below, as Leader, was a “THREAT” TO BOTH PARTY’S PLATFORMS, THE UNITED STATES AND THE WORLD AT LARGE?

  28. Feh if that were a movie about Jesus, everybody here would just tell Christians to Suck and Up and Too Effing Bad. Frankly I simply cannot understand why anyone would escape a shithole, come here and try to turn the USA into the shithole they left. Same holds true of our border visitors. Talk about Self-Defeating behavior. I kind of figure if you want to live where they kill you for being raped and force you to cover every inch of your body, why on earth would you want to come here unless you actually think America is going to capitulate and join in, which is about as deluded as it gets. America can be pushed quite a bit, but when the time comes that they push back, I wouldn’t want to be the pushee.

  29. The no preconditions thing reminds me of the 1st horrible presidential campaign against Obama, which the current one may actually surpass. But they did have a commercial that sums these goatfuckers up. It was castro, and Ahamdinnerjacket etc sitting around the table laughing about no Preconditions.

  30. But, the Woman in the video below, as Leader, was a “THREAT” TO BOTH PARTY’S PLATFORMS, THE UNITED STATES AND THE WORLD AT LARGE?

    Now THERE’s a Money Quote.

  31. Uppity, I know you’ve closed comments on the most recent posting by Sophie, but just wanted to let you know – your last comment was brilliant, simply magnificent. It’s nice to see you back. Now I’ll go back to lurking, but thank you very much for that.

  32. Ok, I got all of that off my chest, albeit nervously, considering this isn’t my blog nor readers.

    There is so much more to this story of Democracy and how we are failing, as voters, to preserve it by always “falling in line” – with choices so limited, the outcomes so predictable, the results are as certain as death.

    I’m done. There is nothing more any of us can really say that will change the course or consequences of this election – one way or the other.

    The only way I will “feel” better about it, is to get on with a non-politically filtered outlook and put my energy into breathing some life back into finding some peace.

  33. A little too much chest, Why Not, and a personal fight to boot, so I cleaned it up a little. No….I cleaned it up a lot. While I do appreciate your agreement with no discussion on the presidential so-called candidates, tHere is no need to reiforce my blog decision or argue it for me. As you can see, it invokes the kind of sensitivity that implodes. So, from herein it will be enforced even if Jesus his own self shows up to argue this race between four of America’s Creme de la Crappe.

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