Es ist alles Eitel
Du siehst / wohin du siehst, nur eitelkeit auf erden.
Was dieser heute baut / reist jener morgen ein:
Wo itzund städte stehn / wird eine wiesen sein,
Auf der ein schäffers kind wird spielen mit den herden.
Was itzund prächtig blüht soll bald zutretten werden.
Was itzt so pocht und trotzt ist morgen asch und bein.
Nichts ist das ewig sey / kein ertz kein marmorstein.
Itzt lacht das glück uns an / bald donnern die beschwerden.
Der hohen thaten ruhm muss wie ein traum vergehn.
Soll denn das spiel der zeit
/ der leichte mensch bestehn.
Ach! was ist alles dies was wir für köstlich achten,
Als schlechte nichtigkeit / als schatten, staub und wind.
Als eine wiesen blum / die man nicht wiederfindt.
Noch will was ewig ist kein einig mensch betrachten.
Andreas Gryphius - 1637
The Vanity of This World
Look anywhere you will, the Earth is empty show.
What someone builds today, another soon tears down;
Where now a city stands will be a grassy mound,
A place that only shepherds grazing their flocks will know.
What blooms so fair at daybreak, by noon is trampled low;
What bravely struts and strives soon turns to ash and bone;
No substance lasts forever, no brass, no polished stone.
One moment fortune smiles, the next brings bitter woe.
Tales of our mighty deeds like dreams must fade away.
How then should Man - Time's plaything
- ever hope to stay?
Oh think, what are those objects we prize beyond compare,
Mere shadows, dust, and wind - all worthless, false and vain;
Field flowers glimpsed in passing and never seen again!
For that which is immortal, no man seems to care.
Translation by Lane Jennings
Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas
Vanity of vanities! All is vanity! (Ecclesiastes 1.2) This is one of the major mottos of Baroque Literature in Central Europe. From 1618 to 1648 the 30 Years War and several epedemics swept over the Continent. Cities, villages and castles were destroyed. The population of Germany was reduced from 16,5 millions to 10,5 millions: In the countryside some 40% of the population died, in cities roundabout 25%. They were either put to an early death in cruel battles, killed by wayfaring soldiers or suffered from epedemics, hunger and cold.
The panorama shows the ruins of the "Hochburg", located between Emmendingen and Sexau on the Western slope of the Black Forest. This castle was built in the 11th century by the family "von Hachberg". The first written records date back to the year 1127. The "Hochburg" survived several wars and in the 16th century it was expanded, fortified and 7 bastions were added.
From 1634 to 1636 the castle was under siege. After the capitulation it was destroyed but in 1660 the castle was rebuilt once more, though in 1681 the fortifications were demolished again. In 1684 an accidental fire destroyed the last of the remaining buildings. In 1688 finally, French troops occupied the ruins and blew up what was still left of the once splendid "Hochburg".
P.S.: You can actually find a citation of Ecclesiastes 3 in another contribution
to this event.