“Everything passes and vanishes “- A poem by William Allingham

Everything passes and vanishes
Everything leaves its trace;
And often you see in a footstep
What you could not see in a face.

“Everything passes” and “everything vanishes ” – at first ,they sound tautological?  “pass” is an act of going past and does not necessarily imply disappearance. “vanish” is simply the act of going up in smoke, with no trace of a thing. Pass is with reference to a person whom a thing goes past. ‘Vanish” is the reality of disappearing into non-existence and has no reference to a third party observer.

Pass is a relative fact depending upon the observer. “Vanish” is an absolute fact, that holds true irrespective of whether there is someone observing or not.

“Passes and vanishes” is both a physical act of leaving and an abstract act of dissolving into nonexistence. Both “pass” and “vanish” are acts of someone’s leaving but pass does not necessarily mean never to come back. “pass” may leave a trace while still happening but vanish is going never to come back. There is no trace left by the vanished. “pass” is preparatory to “vanish” and before vanishing there may still be some trace. Passing can take place without the possibility of vanishing if the observer changes his position of observation .

Besides ,a pass does not mean never to come back.Someone may pass from our life to another space ,another context. What is true of death is also true of someone’s leaving our lives either to another place or to another context.

and often you see in a footstep
what you could not see in a face”

A fine aphoristic two-line containing a beautiful image. Clearly it means what you might not have known about a dead person when he was alive sometimes becomes known after his death. Thus a fine work of art or a momentous discovery or a silent act of service to fellow humans may not have come to everyone’s notice during a person’s lifetime.

What you could not see in a face” suggests what you overlooked when the person was alive. The world could not recognize the true worth of the person when he was alive. That is when he had a face but you could not spot greatness in it due to your own limitations . He is dead but his footstep leaves traces of his personality and it is only now you know his true worth.