The Raft Builders, by Lord Dunsany
All we who write put me in mind of sailors hastily making rafts upon
When we break up under the heavy years and go down into eternity
with all that is ours our thoughts like small lost rafts float on awhile
upon Oblivion's sea. They will not carry much over those tides, our
names and a phrase or two and little else.
They that write as a trade to please the whim of the day, they are like
sailors that work at the rafts only to warm their hands and to distract
their thoughts from their certain doom; their rafts go all to pieces
before the ship breaks up.
See now Oblivion shimmering all around us, its very tranquility deadlier
than tempest. How little all our keels have troubled it. Time in its deeps
swims like a monstrous whale; and, like a whale, feeds on the littlest
things—small tunes and little unskilled songs of the olden, golden
evenings—and anon turneth whale-like to overthrow whole ships.
See now the wreckage of Babylon floating idly, and something there
that once was Nineveh; already their kings and queens are in the
deeps among the weedy masses of old centuries that hide the sodden
bulk of sunken Tyre and make a darkness round Persepolis.
For the rest I dimly see the forms of foundered ships on the sea-floor
strewn with crowns.
Our ships were all unseaworthy from the first.
There goes the raft that Homer made for Helen.