Nothing Remains

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Nothing remains of unrecorded ages
   That lie in the silent cemetery time;
Their wisdom may have shamed our wisest sages,
   Their glory may have been indeed sublime.
How weak do seem our strivings after power,
   How poor the grandest efforts of our brains,
If out of all we are, in one short hour
         Nothing remains.

Nothing remains but the Eternal Spaces,
   Time and decay uproot the forest trees.
Even the mighty mountains leave their places,
   And sink their haughty heads beneath strange seas
The great earth writhes in some convulsive spasms
   And turns the proudest cities into plains.
The level sea becomes a yawning chasm -
      Nothing remains.

Nothing remains but the Eternal Forces,
   The sad seas cease complaining and grow dry,
Rivers are drained and altered in their courses,
   Great stars pass out and vanish from the sky.
Ideas die and old religions perish,
   Our rarest pleasures and our keenest pains
Are swept away with all we hate or cherish -
      Nothing remains.

Nothing remains but the Eternal Nameless
   And all-creative spirit of the Law,
Uncomprehended, comprehensive, blameless,
   Invincible, resistless, with no flaw;
So full of love it must create for ever,
   Destroying that it may create again,
Persistent and perfecting in endeavour,
   It yet must bring forth angels, after men -
      This, this remains!

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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