poem 146

She laments her fortune, she hints of her aversion to all vice,
and justifies her diversion with the Muses

In my pursuit, World, why such diligence?
What my offense, when I am thus inclined,
insuring elegance affect my mind,
not that my mind affect an elegance?
I have no love of riches or finance,
and thus do I most happily, I find,
expend finances to enrich my mind
and not mind expend upon finance.
I worship beauty not, but vilify
that spoil of time that mocks eternity,
nor less, deceitful treasures glorify,
but hold foremost, with greatest constancy,
consuming all the vanity in life,
and not consuming life in vanity.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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ode XI: to Leuconoe

Do not inquire, we are not allowed to know,
what end the gods have assigned either to me or to you,
Leuconoe, nor consult the Babylonian tables. How much better
to patiently endure whatever comes whether Jupiter grants us more winters,
or whether this one, now crashing Tyrrhenean waves against the rocks,
shall be the last. Be wise. Water your wine. Life is so brief: cut short far-reaching hopes.
Even as we speak, envious time is fleeing: Seize the day: entrusting as little as possible to tomorrow.

Horace

song to solitude

Sole of solitude and solitary and sole,
like the madman in the center of his madness,
I say what you have said to me
with the drowning voice of the sea in my ears,
made of ashes which sing.

I have heard your step, pastoral and naval,
of gazelle and anemone, falling across the time
of a dream woven by mutilated statues;
the lark dying under the snow,
the moss spelling life on the rock,
the harvest-fields of rain, the blind tunnel
which leads from the seed to the rose,
the beauty of the world, its greatest lamentation.
Conquered, I follow your frozen flame,
your deserted mirrors and your slow metals
which will never submit to the bells,
your footprint of burnt-out remain.

I do not know if you are the flesh or the bone of the fruit
of mystery and madness,
of the proud and awaited agony,
or if we are both dreaming ourselves
in the hurricane and in the sigh,
in the brief immensity of a blemish,
in that which I have wished for,
like water and fire in the blood,
like loves without forgetfulness.

I remember your repose of rain
falling over the sea.
Your anxiety of faithful ivy,
and of a little girl loved again.
I remember your pensive sorrows,
your dolorous joy, and your recumbent ecstasy
in my heart and in the morning stars.
Your pattern of cloud, unique and slow,
over a sky of sores; of useless weeping over pure death,
and a desolate hand in the immensity
of a body which yields itself.
You are not, I know, outside me, in the wind,
or in the farewell, the tomb or the defeat,
or in the snow which sometimes prolongs
the shadow of forgetfulness and the echo of nevermore.

Nor, when love was gone,
when a greater love had consumed me,
was she more part of me, her flesh and dream,
and her waking anxiety, and her blue,
sleepless grasp even became kissable.
And when suddenly all is sad,
because love comes complete,
as sad as if you had died,
ah! how close to me, [how] remote,
my dream in the homeland of dreams.

Already shadow less, with love, and without body,
in the clear fabric of silence,
which everything kisses into an enigma,
I remember myself after death.

The space where I taste and suffer
is a cascade of mourning of consoled stone
and a stain of damp on the wall.
And already I do not conceive of myself without being solitude itself
in the one time and place inside me.
Stony votive delirium of passion
where desire exists, unique and alone,
and love is terrible and eternal, and boundless.

You are the dull prolonged shout of the stone
against the living blood,
hurting its mystery of health and poppies.
Oh poesy! solitude and life,
first and eternal Eve,
who chops off
the hands of poor lovers?

I know my agonizing solitude,
sister of the dry myrtle and sleeping cupolas.
I know you are born like fire,
rubbing together two mysteries,
my dream and my skeleton.

Blood, tenaciously shed,
hears your ancient word,
seeking, solitude, your way.
When I die, if I ever know it,
I will be more in you, I will be your wheat,
your pulse and your inconsolable truth.
Oh poesy! solitude and death,
eternal and first Eve,
the sea is crying.

Solitude is not being alone with death
and being loved by her in life.
It is something sadder, dazzling and high;
it is to be alone with life.

Dying of thirst amid the seas,
your forms in my voice and other stars.
Solitude is in hope,
in triumph, in laughter and in the dance.

Luis Cardoza y Aragón

gnomai

Phocylides said this also: What good does it do to be well born
for those whose words bring pleasure to none,
nor their characters either?

Phocylides

epitaph

He who now sleeps here
evoked more pity than envy,
and suffered death a thousand times
before losing his life.

Passerby, don’t make any noise,
be careful not to wake him;
since this is the first night
in which the poor Scarron can sleep.

Paul Scarron

elegy

Let us gather, let us gather the rose in the morning of life;
at least breathe the flowers of fleeting Springs;
let us abandon our hearts to chaste pleasures;
let us love without limit, O my only friend!

When the boatman beaten by angry waves
sees his frail bark threatened by shipwreck,
he turns his glance to the shores he has left
and regrets too late the land’s leisure.
Ah! how he then wishes he had never forsaken his country or his gods,
passing obscure days without danger or fame
beneath the roof of his fathers near the beloved objects
that are present in his memory!

So man, bent beneath the weight of years,
weeps for his sweet Spring that cannot return.
,,Ah! give me back, he says, those hours I profaned!
O gods! I forgot to enjoy them in their season.’’

He speaks; death replies; and those gods to whom he prays,
pushing him into the grave without relenting,
do not let him stoop again to pick up those flowers
which he has not known how to gather.
O my beloved, let us love one another!
And let us laugh at the cares that cradle mortal men.
For the foolish lure of empty smoke
half their days, alas!
Are used up on neglect of the real wealth.
Let us not envy their sterile pride;
let us leave far-off hopes to the masters of men!
For us, uncertain of our hour,
let us hasten to empty life’s cup
while it is in our hands.

Whether the bays crown us and our names
are inscribed on marble or brass in the bloody annals of proud Bellona;
or whether love adorns our humble brows
with the simple flowers harvested by beauty,
we shall all be cast away on the same shore:
at the moment of shipwreck what does it matter
whether we have cleft the air on a famous ship
or timidly skirted the sea-shore,
the sole traveler on a light bark ?

Alphonse de Lamartine

life and death

The time of afterdeath for us is very long.
We live a wretched sum of years, and badly, too.

Semonides