Friday, January 9, 2009

A Garland Briefer than A Girl's

Robert Rubin is retiring.

It is past time. He has had a long run, but I am afraid the former charter member of the Committee to Save the World has worn his honors and his reputation out.

Now he must play an old man's game, working long days and nights, against declining health and energy, to salvage the reputation he squandered in his dotage. There certainly is no upside to him remaining at Citigroup, where he has been reduced to shooting holes in his own resumé by defending the indefensible.

I used to like and respect Bob Rubin. Not so much any more. No-one gives a shit what I think, but I know I am not alone.

They say investment banking is a young man's game. Rubin is yet another example, from a sad and unexpected direction, of the ultimate truth of those words.

* * *
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honours out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl’s.

— A.E. Housman, To an Athlete Dying Young

© 2009 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.