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.