Summary of On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness | Magic of Words | Grade XI

Summary of On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness: Arthur Guiterman

In “On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness” the poet makes us realize that earthy greatness is only for a temporary purpose, it decays and becomes meaningless along with passing time. Poet attacks over the people who are proud of their mane, power, and pelf (Wealth).

Arthur says that the tusk of Mastodons has used to fight mighty wars but now they are used for billiard balls. The sword of Charlemagne has rusted, which was once used to expand the Roman Empire. People used to scare from the powerful hug of a grizzly bear but at present, its fur is used as a rug. Roman statesman and general Julius Caesar were all-powerful in his time but now a day people have kept his bust (half statue) on the self. SO, the poet does not feel himself well although he is writer of his time.

To sum up, this poem exposes the bitter reality of human greatness. Our greatness is transitory and perishable. Passing time makes everything futile. SO, it is worthless to be self-important. Wealth, beauty and power are destructive. The irony is that people are unaware of the fact of the meaninglessness of so-called power, pelf, and beauty. All have to surrender in front of mighty time, which is all-powerful.

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