Vanity Fea



From The City of Dreadful Night

In The Cambridge History of English Literature: 

(... )  all that is most authentic and arresting in the poetry of James Thomson is absolutely “without hope, and without God in the world.” It is the poetry of sheer, overmastering, inexorable despair—a passionate, and almost fierce, declaration of faith in pessimism as the only true philosophy of life. Here we have one who unequivocally affirms
that every struggle brings defeat
Because Fate holds no prize to crown success;
That all the oracles are dumb or cheat
Because they have no secret to express;
That none can pierce the vast black veil uncertain
Because there is no light behind the curtain;
That all is vanity and nothingness.


blade runner

  This little life is all we must endure,
  The grave's most holy peace is ever sure,                  
    We fall asleep and never wake again;
  Nothing is of us but the mouldering flesh,
  Whose elements dissolve and merge afresh
    In earth, air, water, plants, and other men.

  We finish thus; and all our wretched race                 
  Shall finish with its cycle, and give place
    To other beings with their own time-doom:
  Infinite aeons ere our kind began;
  Infinite aeons after the last man
    Has joined the mammoth in earth's tomb and womb.          

  We bow down to the universal laws,
  Which never had for man a special clause
    Of cruelty or kindness, love or hate:
  If toads and vultures are obscene to sight,
  If tigers burn with beauty and with might,               
    Is it by favour or by wrath of Fate?

  All substance lives and struggles evermore
  Through countless shapes continually at war,
    By countless interactions interknit:
  If one is born a certain day on earth,                   
  All times and forces tended to that birth,
    Not all the world could change or hinder it.

  I find no hint throughout the Universe
  Of good or ill, of blessing or of curse;
    I find alone Necessity Supreme;                  
  With infinite Mystery, abysmal, dark,
  Unlighted ever by the faintest spark
    For us the flitting shadows of a dream.

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