Time’s glory is to calm contending kings,Few mortal judges enjoy such abounding authority.
To unmask falsehood and bring truth to light,
To stamp the seal of time in aged things,
To wake the morn of sentinel the night,
To wrong the wronger till he render right,
To ruinate proud buildings with thy hour
And smear with dust their glittering golden towers;
To fill with worm-holes stately monuments,
To feed oblivion with decay of things,
To blot old books and alter their contents,
To pluck the quills from ancient ravens’ wings,
To dry the old oak’s sap and cherish springs,
To spoil antiquities of hammer’d steel,
And turn the giddy round of Fortune’s wheel;
To show the beldam daughters of her daughter,
To make the child a man, the man a child,
To slay the tiger that doth live by slaughter,
To tame the unicorn and lion wild,
To mock the subtle in themselves beguiled,
To cheer the ploughman with increaseful crops,
And waste huge stones with little water drops.
A more ominous sense of judging is captured by Ovid in Metamorphoses XV.234-236:
Tempus edax rerum, tuque, invidiosa vetustas,As rendered by Arthur Golding in 1567:
omnia destruitis, vitiataque dentibus aevi
paulatim lenta consumitis omnia morte.
Thou tyme the eater up of things, and age of spyghtfull teene,“Tempus edax rerum” is proverbial, e.g. as employed in the slogan “le temps détruit tout” at the portentous ending of the movie Irreversible by Gaspar Noé.
Destroy all things. And when that long continuance hath them bit,
You leysurely by lingring death consume them every whit.