High School graduation was a big deal. We were adults, and underclassmen suddenly seemed so young. En route to prom, my lacey-gowned girlfriend and I were asked if we were married. Married? That’s what grown-ups do! A few days later, I threw an all-night party, something my parents had never let me do before. Why […]
Before (or maybe after) reading Mitch’s great piece, To Be Immortal, consider that the greatest writers in history have returned again and again to that well of desire for immortality (or is it posterity? or maybe just fame?).
Shakespeare in his famous Sonnet XVIII rued that “summer’s lease hath all too short a date” while clinging to the consolation that his “eternal lines” would live “so long as men can breathe, or eyes see” and give some sense of life to Shakespeare, the poet, longing to live on in his poetry.
And Keats, in his Ode to a Grecian Urn, sought some “immortality” by his lines immortalizing the Grecian urn. But what immortality did he earn? Some fleeting fame in his own time? Some lingering posterity lasting so long as men breath?
William Wordsworth, in Ode on Imitations of Immortality, wondered, “Whither is fled the visionary dream? Where is it now, the glory and the dream?” While “heaven lies about us in our infancy” the “shades of the prison-house begin to close” even “upon the growing boy”; and the light and joy and vision the boy beholds, the man see “die away and fade into the light of the common day.”
Emily Dickinson and many others waxed on about death and dying, mortality and posterity, and the longing for immortality has lurked in those themes since the beginning of human time.
But, God it is who made everything beautiful in its time and put eternity into our hearts. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Like the Grecian urn will someday return to dust, the lines by which the greatest writers among human kind sought their own version of immortality will cease to be known. Time will take them. Men will breath no more. The science by which we gain vantage into the wonders of the universe as certainly show us that our end is inevitable.
Our immortality does not lie in the art that men can mold with their hands or the lines they can pen. Immortality lies in something more transcendent than crafted artifacts of dust that to dust will return or lines fading from the finite consciousness of men.