23 June 2007

Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas

This morning, Amalendu and I went to the mall in the centre of Canberra. The plan was to invite people to the free meditation classes that the Sri Chinmoy Centre is putting on. Only 5 people took the details of classes but we gave out about 200 aphorism cards. It was cool asking people, “Would you like a poem?” Then we got to watch them walking away reading them. I enjoyed myself immensely. This world needs more poetry.

The amusing thing is that thirty metres from us the Hare Krishna folk set up a stall and had their kirtan going. Thirty metres in the other direction, the Falun Gong were doing their thing.

Amalendu is the only person I live with who doesn’t have a blog. Today, he went for a run in the morning, a ride in the afternoon, and a swim in the evening. Perhaps people without blogs do more exercise? This is he on the couch as we were cooking dinner. We were laughing and saying, “Our little Amalendu has had a big day.”

I really shouldn’t talk about clothes on my blog. Thinking about them got me inspired to go shopping again. I have never been a particular fan of striped ties, but it was time for a change. A bit of haggling closed the purchase of course - my Italian grandfather would have been proud.

Tomorrow I am climbing up Mt Corey. It is in Brindabella National Park. The peak is right on the border of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. It is only 1421 metres tall, but the contour lines are pretty close together on the map, which makes it very steep. The fact we are taking a compass and a map signifies it is serious, even if we don’t end up eating the sled dogs to survive. Actually, I bought a pack of jelly babies as far as supplies go. Photos will be forthcoming.

As you have endured my new ties, I am including a poem by Anne Brontë. (Her sister wrote Wuthering Heights, which is a pretty famous song by Kate Bush.) The poem takes its title from the Latin version of Ecclesiastes, a book of the Bible by ‘the teacher.’ The title translates as, ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’

Vanitas Vanitatum, Omnia Vanitas

IN all we do, and hear, and see,
Is restless Toil, and Vanity.
While yet the rolling earth abides,
Men come and go like ocean tides;

And ere one generation dies,
Another in its place shall rise;
That, sinking soon into the grave,
Others succeed, like wave on wave;

And as they rise, they pass away.
The sun arises every day,
And hastening onward to the West,
He nightly sinks, but not to rest:

Returning to the eastern skies,
Again to light us, he must rise.
And still the restless wind comes forth,
Now blowing keenly from the North;

Now from the South, the East, the West,
For ever changing, ne'er at rest.
The fountains, gushing from the hills,
Supply the ever-running rills;

The thirsty rivers drink their store,
And bear it rolling to the shore,
But still the ocean craves for more.
'Tis endless labour everywhere!
Sound cannot satisfy the ear,

Light cannot fill the craving eye,
Nor riches half our wants supply;
Pleasure but doubles future pain,
And joy brings sorrow in her train;

Laughter is mad, and reckless mirth–
What does she in this weary earth?
Should Wealth, or Fame, our Life employ,
Death comes, our labour to destroy;

To snatch the untasted cup away,
For which we toiled so many a day.
What, then, remains for wretched man?
To use life's comforts while he can,

Enjoy the blessings Heaven bestows,
Assist his friends, forgive his foes;
Trust God, and keep his statutes still,
Upright and firm, through good and ill;

Thankful for all that God has given,
Fixing his firmest hopes on heaven;
Knowing that earthly joys decay,
But hoping through the darkest day.

PS Ecclesiastes also gave us, 'Nihil sub sole novum.' There is nothing new under the sun. Presumably he was just quoting someone else.


John said...

Poor little Amalendu was obviously all tuckered out!

Gosh Alf, I admire your taste in poetry, but not always your taste in clothes. In this vein, I will have to finish off my story about “Zen Dressing,” which is my deliberate habit of dressing without sense of fashion, in order to kill the ego—a practice I have refined to truly great heights, or at least that is what I am telling myself...

I almost bought a large omnibus of C19th poetry the other day including the Bronte's, but financial caution stayed my wallet.

Alf said...

You're right. I have renounced all links to the earth plane from this moment forth. Cuff-links, I mean.

I definitely still enjoy reading on paper more compared to online.

Buy it on Amazon when you are in NY I say.