The Vanishing Dew upon the Morning Glory

‘Think, let us say, of the times of Vespasian; and what do you see? Men and women busy marrying, bringing up children, sickening, dying, fighting, feasting, chaffering, farming flattering, ragging, envying, scheming, calling down curses, grumbling at fate, loving, hoarding, coveting thrones and dignities. Of all that, not a trace survives today. Or come forward to the days of Trajan; again, it is the same; that life, too has perished.’

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

‘In our dazzling capital the houses of high and low crowd the streets, a jostling throng of roof and tile, and have done so down the generations – yet ask if this is truly so and you discover that almost no house has been there from of old. Some burned down last year and this year were rebuilt. Others were once grand mansions, gone to ruin, where now small houses stand. And it is the same with those that live in them. The places remain, as full of people as ever, but of those one saw there once now only one or two in twenty or thirty still survive…An owner and his home vie in their impermanence, as the vanishing dew upon the morning glory.’

Chomei, Hojoki, translated by Meredith McKinney.


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