The Eternality of Eternity

And now for something completely different this week; an historical anecdote. This piece was written for the Six Sentence Challenge, with the prompt word of ‘eternal’.

Arthur Malcolm Stace was born in 1885, brought up by alcoholic parents in poverty that led to stealing bread and milk and searching for scraps of food in bins, and as a teenager became an alcoholic, was sent to jail at 15 and, in his twenties, he was a scout for his sisters’ brothels.

But, after hearing a sermon on eternity in 1930, he suddenly gave up alcohol at the age of 45 and went on to achieve world-wide fame as ‘Mr. Eternity’, before his death in 1967 at the age of 83.

For 35 years he inscribed the word ‘Eternity’, in copperplate writing (despite the fact that he was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly), with yellow chalk (and later crayons) on footpaths and doorsteps in and around Sydney and it’s estimated he did this half a million times.

Only one original still exists, inside the bell of the Sydney General Post Office clock tower, which was brought out of storage in the 1960’s and no-one knows how Stace had been able to get to the bell, which had been sealed up for 20 years.

He inspired many artists (including Banksy) and writers, spawned an opera and even a film by Julien Temple, the video chronicler of the Sex Pistols and The Kinks.

In 2000, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was lit up with the word “Eternity” as part of the celebrations for the beginning of the year 2000, as well as being part of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, in celebration of a man who became eternal though the use of one word.

You can learn more about Arthur in this brief video.

25 thoughts on “The Eternality of Eternity

  1. “Honey, what happened to my car?”

    Strange isn’t it? We live lives both brief and advanced and sometimes (just sometimes to a very few) the world or reality or whatever touches a person and they are forever blessed.

    I would submit, compared to many of us trying to live productive lives, your Mister Stace was a holy man*.

    *Provided, of course, we are as accepting of the profane as we are of the sacred.

    Liked by 1 person

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