the vanity oh human wishes

My child, Zeus the deep-thundering holds the ends of all
actions in his own hands, disposes as he will
of everything. We who are human have no minds,
but live, from day to day, like beasts and nothing know
of what God plans to make happen to each of us.
But hope and self-persuasion keep us all alive
in our unprofitable desires. Some watch the day
for what it brings, and some the turn of years, and none
so downcast he will not believe that time to come
will make him virtuous, rich, all his heart’s desire.
But other things begin to happen first; old age,
which no one wants, gets one before he makes his goal.
Painful diseases wear down some; others are killed in battle,
and death takes them under the dark earth.
Some, battered in the sudden hurricane on the sea,
where waves crowd big across the blue salt water, drown
and die, when all they looked for was some way to live.
Some loop (a dismal way to die) the noose around
their necks and go self-murdered from the sunlight. Thus
no evil thing is missing. In their thousands stand
bad spirits, and innumerable griefs, and pains
about our life. If men would take advice from me,
we should not long for what is really bad, nor buy
our heart’s own torment for our hard work done in vain.

Semonides

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life is a pleasant anticipation of the future

Life is a pleasant anticipation of the future
and a regret for the past, an uncontrollable desire
to taste and touch what has not been tasted,
an incurable distaste for what has been tasted;

a vain recalling of the desirable state of past ages,
an uncertain hope of a wished-for future,
frivolously built up on the vain
foundation of shifting expectations;

a horror of oneself, a desire for death,
a contempt of life, a pit of remorse,
a storehouse of tears, a storm-tossed sea:

in which the nearer we come to the distant shore,
the more we regret and vainly lament
that the wind has ended our journey so soon.

Jean-Baptiste Chassignet

love

Here I lie mournful with desire,
feeble in bitterness of the pain
gods inflicted upon me,
stuck through the bones with love.

Archilochus

the golden rule

There are two tragedies in life.
One is to lose your heart’s desire.
The other is to gain it.

Bernard Shaw

L’invitation au voyage

My sister, my child
Imagine how sweet
To live there as lovers do!
To kiss as we choose
To love and to die
In that land resembling you!
The misty suns
Of shifting skies
To my spirit are as dear
As the evasions
Of your eyes
That shine behind their tears.

There, all is order and leisure,
Luxury, beauty, and pleasure.

The tables would glow
With the luster of years
To ornament our room.
The rarest of blooms
Would mingle their scents
With amber’s vague perfume.
The ceilings, rich
The mirrors, deep—
The splendour of the East—
All whisper there
To the silent soul
Her sweet familiar speech.

There, all is order and leisure,
Luxury, beauty, and pleasure.

And these canals*
Bear ships at rest,
Although in a wandering mood;
To gratify
Your least desire
They have sailed around the world.
The setting suns
En robe the fields
The canals, the entire town
With hyacinth, gold;
The world falls asleep
In a warmly glowing gown.

There, all is order and leisure,
Luxury, beauty, and pleasure.

Charles Baudelaire