How much there is in the world I do not want,
who knows the utility of futility?
awake, arise, or be forever fallen,
what soon grows old? gratitude…
all men by nature desire knowledge,
education is the best provision for old age.
does piety requires us to honor truth
above our friends?
well begun is half done,
creation is the same as destruction,
we flatter ourselves.
each mortal thing does one thing
and the same; you should go
to a pear tree for pears,
not to an elm.
may I hold you, as I sink,
with my failing hand?
We come and go, but for the gain, where is it?
And spin life’s woof, but for the wrap, where is it?
And many a righteous man has burned to dust
In heaven’s blue rondure, but their smoke, where is it?
O friend, do not indulge in this world’s sorrow
From the world of vain grief and sadness, don’t borrow
The past is gone and the future is not yet here,
Be happy and fear not the sorrow of tomorrow.
When I was passing along the road in the twilight
I saw a red glow in the window
A rosy girl stood on the threshold
And told me that I was tall and handsome.
That is all my tale, good people,
Nothing more do I ask of you.
I never dreamt of a miracle,
So you calm down and forget about it too.
Best of all things is never to be born,
never to know the light of sharp sun.
But being born, then best
to pass quickly as one can through the gates of Hell,
and there lie under the massive shield of earth.
Greed and sleep and slothful beds
have banished every virtue from the world,
so that, overcome by habit,
our nature has almost lost its way.
And all the benign lights of heaven,
that inform human life, are so spent,
that he who wishes to bring down a stream
from Helicon is pointed out as a wonder.
Such desire for laurel, and for myrtle?
‘Poor and naked goes philosophy’,
say the crowd intent on base profit.
You’ll have poor company on that other road:
So much the more I beg you, gentle spirit,
not to turn from your great undertaking.
Happy are they who in some mountain dale
sit meditating on the highest light,
the fearless birds alighting in their lap
to taste their tears of bliss.
But here sit I in a pavilion
set in a pleasure garden by a pool
within the palace of my daydreams;
and as I daydream, I grow old.
Music often takes me like a sea
and I set out
under mist or a transparent sky
for my pale star;
I run before the wind as if I had
laid on full sail,
climbing the mountainous backs of the waves,
in darkness, eardrums throbbing as I feel
the coming wreck;
fair winds or foul – a raging storm
on the great deep my cradle,
and dead calm the looking-glass
of my despair.