Thomas Love Peacock’s poem “Palmyra” is an address to the spirit of ancient times. Mankind’s passions, and the actions that result from them, are nearly the same in all ages and nations. All the works of man are subject to the same decay. Even these ruins will disappear from the desert.
Swift as the meteor’s midnight course,
Swift as the cataract’s headlong force,
Swift as the clouds, whose changeful forms
Hang on the rear of flying storms,
So swift is Time’s colossal stride
Above the wrecks of human pride.
These temples, awful in decay,
Whose ancient splendor half endures,
These arches, dim in parting day,
These dust-defiled entablatures,
These shafts, whose prostrate pride around
The desert-weed entwines its wreath,
These capitals, that strew the ground,
Their shattered colonnades beneath,
These pillars, white in lengthening files,
Grey tombs, and broken peristyles,
May yet, through many an age, retain
The pomp of Thedmor’s wasted reign:
But Time still shakes, with giant-tread,
The marble city of the dead,
That crushed at last, a shapeless heap,
Beneath the drifted sands shall sleep.
Bedouin tent, Palmyra, Syria - Valley of the Tombs
Photo from my Middle East trip, November 2004 - TS Evans
For Laura’s project, A Trip Through My Eyes.