The Giant’s Ring - Poem by Robinson Jeffers
BALLYLESSON, NEAR BELFAST
Whoever is able will pursue the plainly
False immortality of not having lived in vain but leaving some
mark in the world.
Secretly mocking at his own insanity
He labors the same, he knows that no dead man's lip was ever
curled in self-scorn,
And immortality is for the dead.
Jesus and Caesar out of the bricks of man's weakness, Washington
out of the brittle
Bones of man's strength built their memorials,
This nameless chief of a knot of forgotten tribes in the Irish darkness
Simpler materials: to diadem a hilltop
That sees the long loughs and the Mourne Mountains, with a ring
of enormous embankment, and to build
In the center that great toad of a dolmen
Piled up of ponderous basalt that sheds the centuries like raindrops.
He drove the labor,
And has earmarked already some four millenniums.
His very presence is here, thick-bodied and brutish, a brutal and
Immortality? While Homer and Shakespeare are names,
Not of men but verses, and the elder has not lived nor the
younger will not, such treadings of time.
Conclude that secular like Christian immortality's
Too cheap a bargain: the name, the work or the soul: glass beads
are the trade for savages.
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