Monday, July 02, 2012

Ruin Hath Taught Me Thus to Ruminate

Sonnet 64
by William Shakespeare

When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death, which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

A somewhat chill poem, but Shakespeare is perhaps the best poet of insecurity. Seeing the continual deterioration of the world around: the fineries of past ages harmed, the destructions of cities, the smashing of brass, intrusion of land on sea and sea on land, and so fort, show us that our loves too may be lost to time. That's a poetic thought and most poets end there, but Shakespeare goes that one step further by recognizing that a person can be saddened to have some wonderful thing that can be taken away, simply because it is both a wonderful thing and can be taken away. This is not, perhaps, reasonable; but it is a mood that is not very difficult to find. And the Bard captures it perfectly here.

For a number of reasons, posting will continue to be light over the next few days.

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