Into the valley of death, wrote Tennyson, Rode the 600, cannons to the right of them, cannons to the left shot at with shot and shell the greatest poem of nobility in folly ever written.
In Compostela, it was death that charged into a valley on a horse of wind with a sword of rain leaving a trail of mud and dead, 477 so far, almost as many more missing. But the victims had also converged on the flood-prone valley in search of jobs to live, finding death instead.
Jason Gutierrez of Agence France Presse has written the sharpest most poignant account of the tragedy describing starving survivors slogging through mud stretching to the horizon only to find more devastation on the way, while Army teams pulled the living and the dead, including a baby, out of the slime in the stench.
The Army doubts that any more are living but civil defense chief Ramos says the rescue effort will continue, no stone unturned, no mud unprobed, letting their noses lead them to the dead and God's mercy to the living.
Poor Compostela so far from God, so much farther from Manila where the right to life continues to be debated in the midst of the dying, dead and devastation.
There is an argument that the occurrence of natural evils argues either there is no god or he is no good and a counter-argument that these evils are not inflicted by God but by nature and man's greed for profit and utter disregard for fellowmen. But God lets it happen anyway because the best thing about life is not its survival but nobility and fortitude in full display by those who suffer and by those who are spared and yet who care. I don't know. The jury is still out on that one.