The Dream of the Shadow of Smoke

“So is every man. He is born in vanity and sin. He comes into the world like morning mushrooms, soon thrustling up their heads into the air, and conversing with their kindred of the same production, and as soon as they turn to dust and forgetfulness, some of them without any other interest in the affairs of the world, but that they made their parents a little glad and very sorrowful…”

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

“Others ride longer in the storm, maybe until seven years of vanity be expired and then, preadventure, the sun shines hot upon their heads, and they fall into the shades below, into the cover of death and darkness and the grave to hide them. But if the bubble stands the shock of a bigger drop, and outlives the chance of a child or a careless nurse, or drowning in a pail of water, or being overlaid by a sleepy servant, or such little accidents, then the young man dances like a bubble, empty and gay, and shines like a dove’s neck, or the image of a rainbow, which has no substance, and whose very imagery and colours are fantastical. And so he dances out the gaiety of his youth, and is all the while in a storm, and endures only because he is not knocked on the head by a drop of bigger pain, or crushed by the pressure of a load of undigested meat, or quenched by the disorder of an ill-placed humour.

Homer calls man a leaf, the smallest; Pindar calls him the dream of a shadow, another, the dream of a shadow of smoke; but St. James spake, by a more excellent spirit,saying our life is but a vapour, that is to say, drawn from the air by a celestial influence, made of smoke and the lighter parts of water, tossed by the wind and moved by the motion of a superior body, without virtue in itself and lifted up on high or left below, according as it pleases the demands of its foster fathers…”

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust

In my mind is the sound
Of rudderless ships
A time, and a time
And a time
And a time
So much silence
Deafens our ears
So much emptiness
Hinders our movements
Lost in the earth
And lost in the air
Around my hollow globe
Broken feathers
Blocking my words
And the no-one speaks
Oh no-one moves
Broken in snow
The sun bares teeth
So one: I shall build a boat
Two: I shall not fly a flag
Three, three, three:
God’s three functions
So three: I shall cross myself
Four: and hope to die

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