Come, ye philosophers, who cry, "All’s well," And contemplate this ruin of a world.

‘Tis mockery to tell me all is well.
Like learned doctors, nothing do I know.
Plato has said that men did once have wings
And bodies proof against all mortal ill;
That pain and death were strangers to their world.
How have we fallen from that high estate!
Man crawls and dies: all is but born to die:
The world’s the empire of destructiveness.
This frail construction of quick nerves and bones
Cannot sustain the shock of elements;
This temporary blend of blood and dust
Was put together only to dissolve;
This prompt and vivid sentiment of nerve
Was made for pain, the minister of death:
Thus in my ear does nature’s message run.


Anonymous said...

are you betrayed by the last line?

"He might have added one thing further — hope."

socialism and/or barbarism said...

Betrayed would imply that one had faith to start, while the thrust of the poem is the decimation of capacity to "have faith."

Besides, given a) the relentless slog of the poem and b) that what one bears is "Evil and ignorance, distress and sin," "hope" hardly seems here to be the exception contained in Pandora's jar. It is simply the next term in the plagued series.