On The Vanity Of Earthly Greatness Summary in Short
“On the vanity of Earthy Greatness” has been composed by author Guiterman, an American poet and journalist. This poem is about the realization of remorselessness of time and vanity of human greatness. The poem is also ironical in stone as the implication differs from what has been literally stated.
The poet believes that the giants’ elephant is taken to the battlefield, which terrifies the soldiers with the fearful sound of the clash of their tusks. In fact, giant elephants with giant figures and long tasks cannot remain immortal forever. These animals have to die one day and so on get turned into billiard balls for entertainment. Likewise, the Roman Emperor Charlemagne had a once-mighty sword with him. He had never seen defeat in his life on the battlefield. However, even the mighty sword of the Roman Emperor got filled with rust in the course of time. It seems to give in ‘surrender’ in front of time. Similarly, the grizzly bear that used to frighten with people with its powerful hug has been turned into the carpet for the decoration of the room. Even the great Caesar couldn’t escape the jolt (move) of death in spite of his philanthropy. His half statue (bust) is kept on the shelf for decoration as well.
This state the human beings, in spite of their earthly greatness, can’t stop the flow of time at all. Time, which is an agent of death sooner or later. Death is a democrat to treat everyone equally. If earthly greatness achieved after a long struggle, fails to attached immortality or expands the span of human life, there no point in showing pride for it.
1) What is ironical about the poem, “on the vanity of Earthly Greatness”?
Answer: Irony is a way of writing in which what is meant contrary to what the word or sentence appears to say. It seems to be saying something but the implication differs from what has been stated previously. This poem bears an ironical tone throughout it. In fact, the first line of each couplet seems to talk about something great about animals or human beings. But, the second line of the same couplet passes criticism. On what has been said.
This poem seems to deal with earthly greatness or the achievement of animals and historical figures. The giant animals like elephants and bears can terrify people with their giant figures. However, the giant figure achieved by these animals cannot last forever. These animals have to be a victim of death one day. Similarly, great historical figures have achieved name and fame through hard work. In spite of being famous and powerful, they couldn’t escape the jolt of death. In fact, the irony lies in the sense that the achievement we come across in our life is just hollow pride or achievement simply because it doesn’t attach immortality in us.