Beckett: Poetry – No. 1913, Pride & Wealth are Transient

This exegetical poem is based on Psalm 49.


Hear this proclamation,
     all you people in the earth, —
no matter what your station
     and no matter your worth:

My mouth speaks the Lord’s wisdom;
     His Word is my heart’s meditation,
for He’s brought me into His kingdom,
     hence my mouth’s recitation.

Therefore, why should I fear
     when we face trying times?
Or when evil comes near
     and the rich boast in their pastimes?

For no riches can purchase a life
     as a bargain to God to be spared,
since no thing can ever suffice
     to pay for even a single hair.

Man cannot keep himself from Death, —
     from the belly of the Pit.
Even the smartest have temporary breath,
     which the poor force them to admit.

Their graves become eternal homes,
     even if in life they own much land.
Man’s pride does not forever roam;
     his life is sinking sand.

Such is the path of pride, —
     the end of self-worship.
In Death they’ll forever abide,
     the righteous to rule over them.

The proud cannot ransom their souls,
     yet the Lord ransoms me from Death;
He raises the lowly from Sheol
     and gives us eternal breath.

Fear not, then, the reign of the rich
     and the invention of their glory,
for in death their station will switch;
     none will remember their story.

Even though they consider themselves blessed
     in their life of pomp and circumstance,
they will be Death’s eternal guest
     and never again see light’s glance.

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