I loved this poetry when I was first introduced to it in Lower Six, not realising how relevant it will be today. "Vanitas vanitatum" is Latin and is often translated as "vanity of vanities". How relevant today.
VANITAS VANITATUM OMNIA VANITAS
by: Anne Bronte (1820-1849)
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.
"Vanitas Vanitatum Omnia Vanitas" is reprinted from Poems By Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Bronte. Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1848.