There is a difference, is there not, between
The wealth we have in income, and our earnings?
The first is all the wealth we can obtain,
One way or another: while the last
Requires at first that we should give in turn.
The price we pay for gold is gold itself.
And though we take, we always will return:
All wealth is burrowed from the patient earth;
All words are borrowed words, and all our time
Is borrowed time. But the soil is its own rest,
Its own sweet grave, its own sincere concern.
The price we pay for life is life itself.
Hoard your treasure in the mountain, safe:
Keep it from the grapple of the poor,
Keep it from the greed of grasping death.
Linger in your cave. There is no gold
That will not be reburied in the earth.
The price we pay for greed is greed itself.
I am already preparing for the childhood tradition of reading and watching A Christmas Carol once December is upon us. Jacob Marley’s ghost, forever burdened by the chains he wrought in his lifetime – piecing together his own wealth and greed, callousness and selfishness, weighing him down and ensnaring him for eternity – is a disturbing but effective symbolism which haunts me to this day. You cannot take wealth with you, after all: but perhaps we do carry the chains we forge for ourselves.