A poet or a painter embarks upon this effort knowing that it is doomed to failure. But therein lies the beauty of the undertaking. (Pun not intended.) This fleeting World is -- despite human nature, despite our daily dose of the dispiriting news of the world -- an earthly paradise. Would an unchanging Paradise be a paradise?
John Humphrey Spender, "Staked Rose" (1953)
When I lie where shades of darkness
Shall no more assail mine eyes,
Nor the rain make lamentation
When the wind sighs;
How will fare the world whose wonder
Was the very proof of me?
Memory fades, must the remembered
Oh, when this my dust surrenders
Hand, foot, lip, to dust again,
May these loved and loving faces
Please other men!
May the rusting harvest hedgerow
Still the Traveller's Joy entwine,
And as happy children gather
Posies once mine.
Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
Till to delight
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
In other days.
Walter de la Mare, Motley and Other Poems (1918).
Our own individual transience is a given. Time is short. But humanity's attempt to momentarily halt that transience through poetry and painting is an unchanging constant that is bequeathed to all of us.
Josephine Bowes (1825-1874), "A Cornfield near Calais"