Nemesis — the impermanence of all created things

Impassive sentinel of history,

Mute and inscrutable you stand alone,

Floating serenely on a sea of sand,

Unmoved by the passage of centuries

And indifferent to the countless hordes

Whose brief existence has been conducted

Within sight of your enigmatic gaze,

You are a stark and silent testament

To the folly of human vanity

And its desire for immortality;

For the bodies of those whose tombs you guard —

Those majestic gateways to the heavens —

Were plundered for their riches long ago

And nothing remains of their mortal essence,

And in time you too will suffer their fate,

Your stones eroded by the restless wind

And your atoms merged with the blowing sands.

For a little while you will be preserved

As a symbol of human endeavour

To be studied by archaeologists

And to assuage the curiosity

Of those who come to gawp at your splendour,

Some perhaps understanding your message

That our lives ultimately mean nothing.


Driven by the same conceited spirit

As those who commissioned grandiose tombs

To glorify their godlike achievements,

I have attempted to construct with words

Temples of meaning, vast edifices

To celebrate all human life and love,

Vainly hoping for immortality

As one blessed with a special genius

To illustrate eternal verities

In a unique and memorable way.

In my intellectual arrogance

I expect adulation as my right

While humbly accepting every plaudit,

An attitude of such hypocrisy

That deserves the punishment for hubris,

That most awful nemesis for the poet,

Worse than criticism — to be ignored.

The truth, of course, is that my artistry

Is nothing special, merely commonplace,

And makes little impression on the minds

Of those who are kind, or foolish enough

To read my verse, and whose gracious comments

Reflect their generosity alone.

The least among writers, it is my fate

To leave no lasting trace of my passing.

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