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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lasting values: the pearl of great price

The topic of ethics is to the fore in Australian public life these days. Time for a reality check, Miss Eagle thinks.


The Hope Pearl, a 450-carat natural pearl that was owned by nineteenth-century gem collector Henry Phillip Hope. Loaned by Christie's. (Chip Clark / Smithsonian) Click image to enlarge.

The Pearl.

Matthew 13: 45



I know the ways of Learning; both the head
And pipes that feed the press, and make it run;
What reason has from nature borrowed,
Or of it self, like a good housewife, spun
In laws and policy; what the stars conspire,
What willing nature speaks, what forced by fire;
Both th' old discoveries, and the new-found seas,
The stock and surplus, cause and history:
All these stand open, or I have the keys:
Yet I love thee.

I know the ways of Honor, what maintains
The quick returns of courtesy and wit:
In vies of favors whether party gains,
When glory swells the heart, and molding it
To all expressions both of hand and eye,
Which on the world a true-love-knot may tie,
And bear the bundle, wheresoe'er it goes:
How many drams of spirit there must be
To sell my life unto my friends or foes:
Yet I love thee.

I know the ways of Pleasure, the sweet strains,
The lullings and the relishes of it;
The propositions of hot blood and brains;
What mirth and music mean; what love and wit
Have done these twenty hundred years, and more:
I know the projects of unbridled store:
My stuff is flesh, not brass; my senses live,
And grumble oft, that they have more in me
Than he that curbs them, being but one to five:
Yet I love thee.

I know all these, and have them in my hand:
Therefore not seal├ęd, but with open eyes
I fly to you, and fully understand
Both the main sale, and the commodities;
And at what rate and price I have your love;
With all the circumstances that may move:
Yet through these labyrinths, not my groveling wit,
But your silk twist let down from heaven to me,
Did both conduct and teach me, how by it
To climb to thee.

George Herbert