Saturday 12 July 2014

Thought Picnic: Only statues stand immortal after men have long gone

I stand before great men
As I visit cities around the world I am attracted to statues, monuments of stone or marble built to the memory of men whose passage in time is recorded for a viewing.
Before you, on a plinth higher than man is the edifice to man and it is usually a man though rarely a woman, the name, the year of birth and the year of death, between the years is a hyphen and that represents the long story of a life so honoured.
Yet my sight plays with my mind for seeing statues at night almost excites my imagination into thinking they would come alive and converse with me.
Men long gone
Then one reflects that statues are very much the yearning for immortality, great men personified in stone as a symbol, a memorial and a story, having walked the earth, they are long gone, dead and buried.
In the square in front of the fantastic neo-gothic Manchester Town Hall are five statues, I know only two of the men, Prince Albert the consort of Queen Victoria had a grand statue set under a canopy held up by four columns, his honour came by reason of marriage and great it was. Albert Square it is.
A few plinths away stood a greater man, William Ewart Gladstone without much ceremony, four times called to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the reign of Queen Victoria, yet the greater honour of a grander memorial fell on him who married than on him who achieved.
But for the stones, there is no remembrance of the men except in history or in conversation where what they did or the lives they lived mattered.
We are transients
Man on whom power has fallen for stewardship yet fails to see this passage of time, a long period of passage that is an eternity and a future also which is an eternity, we men being markers on the chart that offers an opportunity to live, but never the gift of immortality.
In our folly, we grab money and grab power and act as if for us, time has stood still, as if the reckoning has stopped and history ended yesterday, but we are all transients, some for a moment, some for longer, like flowers we bloom, we wither, we die and blessed be the work of nature as we return to dust or ashes to be fondly remembered or completely forgotten.
If honour outlasts us, a statue rises in a likeness for a moment in time when we were most comely, and as I visit another city square, I sit again observing monuments to great men long dead. Lifeless statues with names, the year of birth and the year of death.
When I depart, my slow long walk or journey back home continues as I contemplate how well I shall be truly forgotten, not having made a dent in time.
The memorials in Albert Square, referenced from Wikipedia

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