Friday, January 16, 2009

On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness

Altered photo of Madison antique shop window

I took this photo of a shop window two winters ago.  The owner does a brilliant job of arranging the miscellaneous curiosities into window displays.  I kept meaning to paint it, but never figured out how.  I adore antique shops, consignment stores, used book emporiums, and I'm not sure why.  What was it about this peeling "open" sign, a beauty shop hair dryer,  old table, manikin head and a flying cherub that made me want to stop and take a picture?  Perhaps nostalgia, or perhaps as a reminder that nothing lasts forever.  

Anyway, flipping through the Norton Book of Light Verse, I stumbled on a poem I used to read to eighth graders.  The poem is a fluffy bit of rhyming couplets, but it also reminds me not to take myself too seriously, and not to wait too long to get to planned projects.

On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness
by Arthur Guiterman

The tusks that clased in nightly brawls
of mastadons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the Just
Is ferric oxide, known as rust.

The grizzly bear whose potent hug
Was feared by all is now a rug.

Great Caesar's bust is on the shelf,
And I don't feel so well myself.

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