On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness’ Summary
‘On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness’ is a poem composed by Arthur Guiterman, an American poet and journalist. It is a periodical echo of more ambitions poem, 18th century’s poet and writer Samuel Johnson’s “The Vanity of Human Wishes.” Yet, it is a flawless poem which makes us realize the remorselessness of time and the vanity of human greatness. All the illusions are concerned with the greatness, but the greatness has been turned and reduced to trifle.
The poet, Arthur Guiterman, is best known for his humorous verse. Through humor, he has depicted the reality of human beings and animals caused by the change in time. It shows the bitter reality that the power of animals or human beings does not remain same when time and situation change. We always run after reputation and prestige. We want to be great and we think it will remain the same forever. We earn reputation and we think that the credit won’t be lost but actually we won’t think that is destroyed in due course of time. Our greatness is dismissed by time. So, time laughs at our blindness and pride. Honor and appreciation given to Great people of the historic past have become dim at present. Remorselessness attitude of modern world has been playfully echoed in this poem. The further states that the bright shining tusks of mighty brawls of mastodons have become playing materials. The war’s weapons have been made frivolous billiard balls to play rather games of empty honor. The sword of Charlemagne the Just has been rusted, and that i9s not useful anymore. Powerful grizzly bear of America, whose embrace was very dreadful, has become nothing more than a rug to give warmth. Julius Caesar was a great warrior and a famous general statesman. He earned a great name and fame in his time through his strength and power. But that power lost its value with the change in the time and situation. He does not possess any arm and power to show his weapons and other things belongings are only in the museum in the form of history. He was the powerful emperor of his time, but now his armless statue has become a showcase for the people.
According to the poet, all the given examples are concerned with the greatness but the greatness has been turned and reduced to valueless things. The ‘vanity’ actually means the degrading value of reputations of any persons and animals in the world. The vanity of human greatness and animals strength has become a good subject to present Irony. That Irony makes one feel unwell and quite indifferent to the person. The vanity of human greatness makes the poet sick. He does not feel any flames in his heart and mind like the contemporary warriors.
The poet further evokes that nobody can get victory over time. The nature has given us limited live and exercise our power. Beyond that time, we cannot move according to our desire.. Only in favorable time and situation we can perform our activities or actions. Everybody becomes great in. his/her time and situation but later on she/he becomes helpless and valueless. All reputation and achievements will be dismissed quickly. So, it is useless to take pride in one’s power as everything decay and fades away in due course of time. In this regards, time is most powerful element. It is futile to feel greatness about the temporary success.