Lord Dunsany, from “The Lonely Idol” (Fifty-One Tales, 1915)
”[…] too soon there pass from us the sweets and song and the lion strength of youth: too soon do their cheeks fade, their hair grow grey and our beloved die; too brittle is beauty, too far off is fame and the years are gathered too soon; there are leaves, leaves falling, everywhere falling; there is autumn among men, autumn and reaping; failure there is, struggle, dying and weeping, and all that is beautiful hath not remained […].
“Even our memories are gathered too with the sound of the ancient voices, the pleasant ancient voices that come to our ears no more; the very gardens of our childhood fade, and there dims with the speed of the years even the mind’s own eye.
“O be not any more the friend of Time, for the silent hurry of his malevolent feet has trodden down what’s fairest; I almost hear the whimper of the years running behind him hound-like, and it takes so few to tear us.
“All that is beautiful he crushes down as a big man tramples daisies, all that is fairest. It is autumn with all the world, and the stars weep to see it.”
Insomniac passing anhypnic nights in writing, translation, music, mathematics, programming and whatever else captures my attention or alleviates agrypnia.
This consists mostly of quotations of things that stand out to me or reflect what's on my mind; occasionally I also post original, often more personal, content as well, which may be found under the "personal" tag. Anything posted under "translations" is also original work and may broadly be taken as personal as well as I seldom tackle a work that does not speak to or for me in some way.
Lord Dunsany, Fifty-One Tales (1915), “The Songless Country”
The poet came unto a great country in which there were no songs. And he lamented gently for the nation that had not any little foolish songs to sing to itself at evening.
And at last he said: “I will make for them myself some little foolish songs so that they may be merry in the lanes and happy by the fireside.” And for some days he made for them aimless songs such as maidens sing on the hills in the older happier countries.
Then he went to some of that nation as they sat weary with the work of the day and said to them: “I have made you some aimless songs out of the small unreasonable legends, that are somewhat akin to the wind in the vales of my childhood; and you may care to sing them in yourdisconsolate evenings.”
And they said to him:
“If you think we have time for that sort of nonsense nowadays you cannot know much of the progress of modern commerce.”
And the poet wept for he said: “Alas! They are damned.”
Lord Dunsany, Fifty-One Tales (1915), “A Mistaken Identity”
Fame as she walked at evening in a city saw the painted face of Notoriety flaunting beneath a gas-lamp, and many kneeled unto her in the dirt of the road.
“Who are you?” Fame said to her.
“I am Fame,” said Notoriety.
Then Fame stole softly away so that no one knew she had gone.
And Notoriety presently went forth and all her worshippers rose and followed after, and she led them, as was most meet, to her native Pit.
Lord Dunsany, Fifty-One Tales (1915), “Charon”
Charon leaned forward and rowed. All things were one with his weariness.
It was not with him a matter of years or of centuries, but of wide floods of time, and an old heaviness and a pain in the arms that had become for him part of the scheme that the gods had made and was of a piece with Eternity.
If the gods had even sent him a contrary wind it would have divided all time in his memory into two equal slabs.
So grey were all things always where he was that if any radiance lingered a moment among the dead, on the face of such a queen perhaps as Cleopatra, his eyes could not have perceived it.
It was strange that the dead nowadays were coming in such numbers. They were coming in thousands where they used to come in fifties. It was neither Charon’s duty nor his wont to ponder in his grey soul why these things might be. Charon leaned forward and rowed.
Then no one came for a while. It was not usual for the gods to send no one down from Earth for such a space. But the gods knew best.
Then one man came alone. And the little shade sat shivering on a lonely bench and the great boat pushed off. Only one passenger; the gods knew best.
And great and weary Charon rowed on and on beside the little, silent, shivering ghost.
And the sound of the river was like a mighty sigh that Grief in the beginning had sighed among her sisters, and that could not die like the echoes of human sorrow failing on earthly hills, but was as old as time and the pain in Charon’s arms.
Then the boat from the slow, grey river loomed up to the coast of Dis and the little, silent shade still shivering stepped ashore, and Charon turned the boat to go wearily back to the world. Then the little shadow spoke, that had been a man.
“I am the last,” he said.
No one had ever made Charon smile before, no one before had ever made him weep.