What is the value of a single life?
A pearl in the oyster of the world,
An unimportant irritation,
A speck of dirt
From no place in particular,
A thing of little consequence
Swaddled in layers of gritty experience.
An occasional flash,
A fleeting splash,
Courses through its liquid depths
Shining brief from milky blindness
Lit up in the gleam of another's eye.
But more often doomed
To lie fallow and unnoticed,
Cradled in its prison of flesh.
It lacks even the temerity
To become a nuisance
To its unconcernèd host.
What price our hearts and souls?
Does memory not seem an indignant curse?
An affliction of nature's outrageous humor,
To better know the mockery of the faded sky
As we lumber painfully through
This broken, tarnished tracery
Of indiscretions and misdirections,
Forgotten dreams and fallen stars?
A coronet of lies; a crown of thorns.
Are we then so cheaply bought?
Used up, grown old,
Discarded in the trackless waste?
What is the wellspring
Of our requited lusts and spent desires?
From whence it comes,
This frivolous passion
For insignificance and mediocrity?
What beckons us low,
To the aged cogs,
Ground down beneath the clockwork
Of the advancing wheels
Of graceless Time?
We stand gravid with our own Despite,
With ignominy our last respite,
Our failures spared annihilation,
Passed over by our desolation.
Ozymandias gazed on empty sands.
Who knows the labor of his hands?
Who sings his deeds of ages past,
Or remembers, yet, his epitaph?
But still his name is handed down,
Inheriting the world's renown.
He earned obscurity's clement,
Not for his works, but sentiment,
His immortality a consequence
Derived from monstrous arrogance.
He presumed upon the ultimate
To try and grasp the threads of Fate,
To take in hand his destiny
And bind it fast in memory.
In pieces lies his monument,
Its stones a silent, sere lament
For Ozymandias, whose dreams had grown
So vast he claimed the world his own.
Perhaps our dreams may yet surpass
The grains within the hourglass.
And if some essence survives
The duration of our meager lives,
If a portion of our hopes and fears
Extends beyond our span of years,
Then what excuse will give us rest
From ever living at our best?
For in our experience is stored
Our contribution to the common hoard
Of imagination, heart, and mind,
Whence newborns spin their lives in kind.
And in their lives, they carry ours
When we have spent our allotted hours.
Take heart in the child's life that saves
Our souls from mouldering in empty graves.
For whatever becomes our posterity,
We leave the children new ways to see.