Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L. E. L.) in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1833/Cootub Minar

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1833-32-Cootub Minar, Delhi.png


Artist: S. Prout - Engraved by: E. Challis


"I have forgotten," ’tis a common phrase
Said every hour, and said of every thing;
Objects of sight and hearing pass away,
As they had not impressed the eye nor ear:
Faces we loved, the voices we thought sweet,
Go from us utterly; the very heart
Remembers not its beatings; hopes, and fears,
In multitudes, leave not a trace behind.
One half of our existence is a blank;
A mighty empire hath forgetfulness!
History is but a page in the great past,
So few amid Time’s records are unsealed.—
Here is a mighty tower: ere it was raised
Its builders must have had wealth, power, and time,
And a desire beyond the present hour.
Do not these mark a period and a state
Refined and civilized? a people past
Through each first process of humanity?
No dwellers these in tents, who only sought
A palm-tree and a well; and left behind
No sign, but a scant herbage. They who built
This lofty tower, which still defies decay,
Must have left many traces; yet not so—
This tower is all, and that has long since lost
All evidence of former times and men,
It has not one tradition.

It is curious to observe the complete oblivion that has attended all man’s greatest efforts; those which asked their immortality of brick and stone. Architecture is the earliest and the most forgetful of the sciences. The pyramids remain as eternal as the earth that bears them; but the name of their founder has long since perished. The work is mightier than its master. The least intellectual effort has a memory far more lasting than that shrined by temple or tower. To me this seems the triumph of mind over matter.