A solemn crowd of wise old faces,
Stand silently above,
Gazing down on the pilgrim
To the memorial of their knowledge,
The record of their deeds.
So many names forgotten,
Slipped away in time,
But once they bettered life on earth
With their new mastery.
In Stockholm there is a museum about the Nobel Prize. It is small, but definitely worth seeing. In addition, it has an excellent café. I discovered a number of things, including that the text on the Nobel medals – approximately quoted in the last two lines – comes from the Aeneid, 6:663. I also discovered that Alfred Nobel wrote poetry unsuccessfully, and one of his earlier poems was quoted. I provide the extract – the complete version is a little long. However, I hope that you enjoy it. If you seek the full version, it can be found here: http://www.nobelprize.org/alfred_nobel/biographical/articles/erlandsson-2/riddle.pdf
You say I am a riddle – it may be
For all of us are riddles unexplained.
Begun in pain, in deeper torture ended,
This breathing clay what business has it here?
Some petty wants to chain us to the Earth,
Some lofty thoughts to lift us to the spheres,
And cheat us with that semblance of a soul
To dream of Immortality, till Time
O’er empty visions draws the closing veil,
And a new life begins – the life of worms,
Those hungry plunderers of the human breast.
For this Hope dwindles as we fathom Truth:
Forgotten to forget – and is that all?
To-day a man, with power to act and feel,
A mirror of the Universe, wherein
Creation’s centred rays combine to form
The focus of Intelligence; to-day
A heart so deeply loving that it seems
As if that band uniting soul to soul,
Were but Religion in a brighter form;
To-day all this – to-morrow a cold corpse,
A something worse than clay which stinks and rots.
Kind hands may strew their flowers,
kind eyes may drop
A tear of pity o’er the buried dust;
But worms will feed long after friends are gone,
And, after all, what matters love of theirs
When all of us, that was, is at an end.
– Alfred Nobel
The Hapless Neo-Romantic