Click a green square to see the Latin text. Click a red square to see a textual note.    


spacerHume likewise takes wing from humble beginnings and flies about on men’s lips, now a new source of fame for the northern clime. Scotland prides itself on its brave and its learned sons, and the honor of wisdom lives on in the name Scotsman. How many warriors, how many bards this nation has begotten! It is such a productive land fruitful for both Mars and the arts. If it has slim crops and is not thickly planted, at least it is lacking in thick wits.



spacerIn these Pastimes, candid reader, you ill detect much which deserves to be compared even with Buchanan’s verses. In these Pastimes, candid reader, you will detect some things which deserve to be preferred even to Buchanan’s lines.


spacerYou most certainly are playing with the reader when you pretend to be offering him playthings: in my opinion, there’s scarcely one plaything in these poems. Or what poems do you regard as serious stuff, if in such poems as this you are only playing? Nevertheless, you should let me read them.


spacerThe family of Home, which has always been proficient at the arts of mars, also produces men adroit at those of Apollo, no less abounding in these. Pregnant Scotland gave birth to the first of poets, and I believe that Scottish Hume will be the second.


spacerThe spear has been an ornament to your hand, a helmet to your brow, and a sword to your side. Laurel wreaths have bound your locks.



spacerbelieve there is no room for doubt, Arabella, you glory of womankind, whether I am doing aright in dedicating this small work to you, either because it is in verse (for it is a learned monument to your learning, a trifling gift of the Muses to their daughter, a garland of those maidens woven for a maiden), or because it is a pastime, for honest pastimes are not inappropriate for your age, station, and dignity, in your youth, at court, amidst its leading lights; rather, they are an adornment, and perhaps a necessity. Since they now attest love, either playful or serious, friendly, conjugal, or pious, to whom of your sex, grace, and beauty could they better be dedicated than to you, who are said to be love’s object, topic, and cause? And, them being written in this genre, you are one who happily inspires this love and blessedly inspires that one, and who should aspire to do so, being the darling of God and mankind. For (as I fancy) a poet ought to handle feigned love with modesty, friendly love with candor, conjugal love with chastity, and pious love with sincerity. But now it is not I who gives you this, but rather modesty itself; candor, chastity, piety and sincerity stake their claim on you. Thus praises of virtue are most praiseworthy for virtue’s sake, and are fit and appropriate for praise. And here you will perhaps recognize your kinsmen and your family, the great names of the Stuarts and Douglases. And you will find that which can grip you. For, if you consider pleasantness, what more pleasant than the Muses? What more than love and variety? Or if you take account of dignity, lo, here you have heroes, kings, and the King of all kings. Or if utility, here is gratitude and virtue, in truth the most useful of all things. Either I am much mistaken, or nothing could be more fit, worthy, useful, pleasant, and useful for your dignity, age, sex, rank, breeding, and endowments of mind, body and virtue, your learning and judgment, than for me to offer this work up from this poor fund of mine. Did I do amiss in giving it you for its mistress and patron goddess? No, I perhaps did so all the more correctly, since you could amount to nothing without it, nor it without yourself, since, with your kindness, learning, and authority, you alone can want to, know how to, and be able to read it. And so it goes for the rest. Why have any doubt about its protection because of your weaker sex? For you are a woman for whom so many knights should be mindful of their oath and to their service, and you alone are sufficient for casting the first vote of such great judgment. But, whatever the case may be, pray allow me to worship your virtue with this proof of my dependence, of whatever quality it is. It is indeed unworthy of you, but you are worthy of maintaining your friendliness and thinking the best of any undertaking. Farewell.


spacershall likewise address these few words to you, whoever you may be. And properly so, unless I am mistaken, since even my very title speaks to you. What idle man does not engage in pastimes? Who is not attentive to poetry? As long as he is not “a donkey singing along with the lyre.” blue And such was I as I wrote. The goal was the same: amusement and pleasure. Otherwise, why be involved with something so ignoble and trite? I know not whether there is any profit in this, at least outside of itself, the times being what they are. And indeed I wrote out of necessity. But why address others, who have neither the leisure nor the curiosity to attend to matters not pertinent to themselves, I mean those that either can’t or won’t? Let them mind their own business. Since you do not disdain the laborious toil of idleness, you may pluck its fruit, if any there be. Carefully look inward with curiosity, and learn not to be incurious about yourself. Leisure is neither fruitless nor ignoble, and curiosity is not amiss. By it, we relax our minds, but so that we may focus them; by it, we study others, but so we may understand ourselves (no understanding more fruitful). Since you are such, I do not ask that you read, but that read carefully and repeatedly. Then at length you may disapprove, if you want. But apply your candor, without which nothing goes aright, and I ask for your good will, as my right since I have brought the same to my writing. For I publish this for your benefit, not only with no profit for myself, but also, perhaps, at the risk of my reputation, and not without trouble. I wrote for my entertainment, I publish for yours, for your recreation, and, if you choose, for your recrimination.
spacer 2. And yet I beg to escape your prejudice and your hasty judgment, be it inspired by liking, by contempt, or by the opinions of others. Do not look up to me or look down on me (as you should not greatly do for other men). Thus, if I am not deceived, you will reap the richest fruit, “if you weigh the things, and not the persons.” blue Let me give this much advice, so you can pass informed judgments. While you are weighing me, you are weighing yourself: test yourself, look into yourself. If you weigh me, you are weighing yourself. If you are a great-hearted man, I refuse you nothing. Nor do I decline to have anything corrected or criticized, nor indeed to be condemned, since I know this, that you will do nothing but that which is rightful and is to the advantage of myself and of this commonwealth of letters on behalf of which we expend our efforts. But hear me and understand. There are many who are not so delighted by careful work. There are those who fail to comprehend, there are cruel carpers. Consideration must be had for these. Take an inventory of yourself and you will easily decide if you are one such. If you are not, it is to your advantage to restrain your judgment, unless you prefer to be judged yourself. And let it not justly be said, “cobbler, stick to your last.” Farewell.




spacerA horse recoils from the spurs, refuses to obey a tight rein, and tries to spit out the hard bit from its panicky mouth. You see how unwillingly oxen come to the plough and are slow to allow their necks to be weighed down by the curved yoke. The same beasts willingly make haste if their watchful cowherd should drive them to their accustomed meadows. We all hunt after leisure and peaceful delights, whereas a heavy spear is taken up by an unwilling hand. We shun hard exertions, our minds averse, and we like no burden that is not light. I myself shudder at the arts of Apollo and their hard work (for what used to be a pastime for me now counts as work), and now reluctantly gird myself for those arts, unenthusiastic about bearing the weight of such a great yoke. Ah, how often I have set them aside after taking them up, and resumed them after setting them aside, filling my papers with cross-outs! Oh, how often have I entrusted my barque to a doubtful wind, and how often the gales have bent my sails backward! My ship does not run, as once it did, into Aonian blue waters, driven by the hospitable breeze of a zephyr. My wit lacks the strength, it is not as vigorous as once it was, when my Muse indulged in her familiar sports. I am ashamed, and shall admit it: almost in vain do I force these recalcitrant words into unwilling meters. For without result does my hand, unaccustomed for years, take up its task, though my mind rebels.
spacer Just as unused iron slumbers, eaten by rust, although it shines brighter than Oebalian brass blue when it has been polished, and as a tilled field gleams handsomely with its golden grain, though fallow land bristles with wild briars, so, albeit my vein of talent was not silvery or made of gold, the stream of my wit, however small it may have been during my first years, has grown dry and flows with a more poverty-stricken trickle, while my heart is sluggish with lifeless idleness and I lazily indulge in a vacation from my pursuits. Or my anxious mind is enfeebled by its cares, and prevents me from being a camp-follower of the Aonidae blue and their choirs. My Helicon-ardor has cooled off, and love of the Muses has departed my chilly breast. A baleful winter has numbed my heart, the heat banished, and ignoble melancholy oppresses it. My mind is enfeebled, as is the erstwhile virtue in my exhausted heart, nor does my wit’s old power endure, the precocious power which had promised that in my mature years I would compose verses as good as Apollo’s. Now, alas, it lies idle, ever so slothful, and perishes, having been fed on empty hope, and it comes to a halt in mid-course, just like a young planting which with its luxuriant growth gave promise of becoming a crop with golden grain, but as soon as the south wind has fallen upon it with its sodden wings, or the dogstar parched its soil, it dies: grown in vain, its stalks cheat the desires and hopes of the farmers with their empty shafts. In my case, whether aconite is creating this torpid lethargy, or ghastly poisons mixed by an Aeaean blue hand, or incantations accustomed to break the scaly backs of blue dragons and overcome fire-breathing bulls, blue or whatever other power ravages men’s senses and limbs, and whatever dark bane steals over their minds, Actaeon was no more terrified alongside the flowing waters when the hand of the indignant goddess gave him his horns, blue Baucis was no more astonished to see her Philemon erupt with leaves and his limbs become covered with bark, blue than I am amazed to have my heart be changed into cold stone and harden into strange crags, or at least to acquire a craggy hardness and become colder than Riphaean blue snow.
spacer Now neither the Castalian fountains, nor Pallas, nor learned Apollo with his golden locks can unlock my streams. Now the Camaenae blue come grudgingly into my meters, since they are not granted a single hour within a month. If I summon them and Phoebus’ customary spirits, Previously he had previously nourished me on the Castalian ridges, giving me to feed on the Pieridae’s food, quaff the foaming nectar so welcome to the Clarian god blue and look into the secret places of his holy fountain, but now he has refused and turned a deaf ear on my prayers. I am scarcely allowed humbly to assault Helicon with my complaints and wet my body even on the surface of its water. Neither Calliope nor the rest of that learned Castalian crew blue acknowledge me as their son. There was a time when my pregnant heart poured forth songs, and fashioned them fittingly for their meters, back when it was if the god were dictating them and my words were poured into obedient rhythms.
spacer I remember that then Pallas was friendly, as was Apollo, then I had goddesses who were compliant with my wishes. By means of easy hills and the top of a modest slope, Phoebus showed me the way to his summit-peaks. There with my hand I either plucked dainty purple flowers, or white lilies mixed in with scarlet roses, or gentle violets, or bright red hyacinths, or marigolds shining bright yellow, or whatever flowers the bountiful ground produced in its bright meadows, albeit not on its lofty summit. For I was not permitted to wreathe my locks with soft garlands taken from the sky-scraping laurel, since it was scarcely allowed me at my early age to cover my awkward brow with Phoebus’ leaf (this is granted to great poets to be worn in exchange for their merit, and flows down, twining, to their worthy breasts). Rather, I chose humble ivy and flowery garlands, that was a fit crown for my locks. Then the Muses fostered my few early years and the first steps of my apprenticeship. Then Phoebus and the friendly sisters of Aganippe blue breathed their graces into my meters, so that, no matter how I devised a song on my thin reed, no matter how untrained my hand was for the melodious lute, that song could gain approval, even in your eyes, and live on, worthy in your judgment. blue
spacer Often, when your brow bristled with black clouds and your stern hands brandished their pliant scourges, those songs banished those dark clouds from your brows, and your anger, and wrenched the pliant scourges from that stern hand. Or, I had I the need to beg your forgiveness, it was granted, and at the same time my song would relax your scowl with its sweet sound. Or when the Muses’ assiduous toil palled and lengthy work begot tedium, it was a pleasure to withdraw my neck from the Aonian halter, my neck made black and blue by that cruel Aonian yoke, and take a turn in refreshing my off-hours with sports and snatch at welcome leisure with permissible games, while the day, shining thanks to Phoebus, and the fields with their flowers, and a tree adorned with its handsome foliage, and also my Muse, insidious with her measures, soothed your peaceful heart, not an inexorable one. And, our bridles loosened, we bounded about in the playground and such a day gained us a free rein. If someone were present, he would praise my sweet and easy Muses, the fact that my words were running along in feet not unwilling.
spacer And somebody blue said (failing to add “if Apollo be favorable”), “in short time this boy will be a bard.” He indeed said that, but the fact scarcely agreed with his words: I imagine they were not uttered by a lucky mouth. Thus an evil eye is ruinous to the herd and casts a spell on the kidlings, and if you encounter a man walking backwards he is harmful. Oh would that he had howled in Rhodope’s blue savage fields, transforming his vile body into an obscene dog, or on the mountains where unfortunate Io wandered, and had filled their caverns with the sounds of that querulous cow! Would that he had inscribed the words he wanted to say on thirsty sand with his footwork, written in accurate letters! Why not just bind my young brow with cyclamen? Why did your evil tongue harm your student? Thus far, have your hopes, your prediction that I would be another great Buchanan (he was great, though you may rail, dire malice and wrath) vanished into thin air, like smoke?
spacer But what good will it have done to fire off pointless complaints against myself and against you, heaping up new griefs? It is not your fault, I confess, but mine, if the unfair Thespiadae blue consign my prayers to the fickle south winds. Yet if they have been friendly and indulged me with any praise, or if they ever do so, whatever glory may exist all belongs to you. Should the Pierians and a not-unwilling Apollo grant me once more to weave words into gentle meter and again give me powers in sing, no place, no coming day will find me unmindful of you. Meanwhile, if this my writing strikes you as having been composed against the will of the Muses or as unworthy of my talent, either because they seem to be running down a steep cliff with a crash rather than a sweet murmur, blue or perhaps because (Phoebus forbid!) I have gotten a quantity wrong, forgive me, they have not pleased their creator. He who walks a path with an incautious step is deceived by its winding ways. A sailor who has dared sail uncharted waters becomes a shipwreck, running onto reefs or getting stuck in seaweed. As a newcomer scanning the ridges of pine-bearing Pindus, I do not know how to stagger along without my progress giving offense.

2. ELEGY II blue

spacerI am the man who, so untroubled by Cupid’s love, scorned his extinguished, lightless torches, and who rashly sneered at the boy’s fires and the feeble darts thrown by his slack hand, his frail arrows, his vain, powerless bow, and, perhaps, his eyes, robbed of their power to see. Now I have learned with what force he can hurl his missile, how he can ruin the hearts he has pierced with certain death. Now, to my misery, I realize the artfulness conjoined to his strength: albeit late in coming, my punishment makes me docile. For, unwilling to bear the yoke, I maintained a neck untouched by servitude, and a back unscarred by any lash. No love tortured my heart with its savage cares, no girl interrupted my sleep, nor was my mind turned by any anxious concern which keeps lovers awake with wakeful fear. Love often set his snares and nets in vain, and in vain did he often attempt his ambushes. Diana supported me, keeping me safe in all respects, as did fair Apollo with his Castalian choir.
spacer The Paeonian sisters blue granted me welcome leisure with their delights, leisure not unpleasant thanks to their measures. The Delian goddess exercised me with the hunt, amidst forests, wild wastelands, dales, and rocks hospitable only to wild beasts, startling timid does with her driving pursuit, or hares, small prey for an eager hound. Now I would sit astride the sweaty back of a horse, and my sport was to wheel it in short turns; then I would gain a grassy hilltop, perched high aloft, or have a lowly flowery underfoot. My mind was always being exercised by studies, my heart by sport, and there was no empty hour in my day. I had neither the time nor the space for you, insidious Cupid, and I never had idleness, that ally of your rule. If Cupid were to set his traps and stretch his nets, Diana would see and scatter them with an angry hand. If he were to pierce my incautious breast with a shaft, the Delian god would be at hand with his healing art. If we began to set my tender marrow afire, Castalian water would quench the new-born flame. Thus Love was either avoided or put off for a long time, and all but took to his heels in shameful flight. He upended his quiver and threw away his useless darts, complaining they lacked any true strength. He cast aside his torch, having lost faith in its flame, as if it were a fire enfeebled by a winter rain. Often he carried his bow unstrung, and used his hand to break his unoffending darts. Their owner’s wrath was displayed against his undeserving arrows, his vehement wrath against his undeserving flames.
spacer At length, when he had barely regained control of himself and his anger had abated, he contemplated his bow and arrows and said, “See, here are my bow, my darts, my arrows, here is my torch, hot with its blazing flame. To these, once upon at time, everything yielded, everything contained by the blue sea, the sky, the earth, the spheres of the stars. But now my victory has come to a halt in the case of that young man!, Ah, there’s less strength in this exhausted body of mine. It has fallen into decay, and now there is no power in my rule, which was accustomed to overcome his ancestors and the ancient gods. Will my victory will now come to a halt in the case of that young man, who is always able to check my course? His breast is not made of hard adamant, nor is his heart frozen with Riphaean blue cold. Yet see how his heart is as hard as adamant, colder than all chills, chillier than all snow! I have darts dipped in goats’ blood, and torches which could overcome Jove’s forked missiles. I am sure that with these I can get the best of adamant, snow, and whatever is hardened by cold throughout the world. But should the Fates forbid that, I have made up my mind to declare myself bested, surrender these helpless arms and yield possession of them to any god you care to name.”
spacer From that time he has busily turned his mind in every direction, trying to decide by what art he can most cunningly work his wiles, what nets he might stretch and what hooks he might affix to them, with what snares and bait he might deceive mankind, with what fire he might set our tender marrow ablaze, or in what way he might wound us with his spear. He is wholly devoted to setting his snares, or stretching his nets, or smearing his savage shafts with deadly poison. And he cautiously follows my track with a quiet step, always careful to keep close to my back. Or he walks along at my side as a treacherous companion, looking to see if some hour might perhaps offer him my unprotected flank.

3. ELEGY III blue

spacerThere was a hill, with a moderate-sized cliff for its summit, blue where its hospitable god mixed himself with the white water. Its soil was rich, its field was handsome with Ceres’ foliage, the shade of trees, and the divinity of delightful Flora. A fountain gushing up from the middle of the ground sent its clean waters rolling downhill eastward. This was surrounded by a thicket of willows, hazels, and brambles, a trusty refuge for winged creatures. On its right bank was a field teeming with those grouse which the heather feeds with its humble foliage. Here, Cupid, either by chance or because blonde Diana, now your friend, secretly brought me into your snares, while I was carelessly giving chase and keeping watch until Nisus blue drove those fearful birds into the shrubbery on swift wing. My hostile pack of hounds caught them in the bushes with their snouts and keen nostrils. Here busy Boius leapt, blue here Berwick and keen Oracon rushed forward with equal energy. Here Clinxeia was more cautious and Morphe (who had a poor sense of smell) all but swept the ground with her belly. blue The bitch turned aside, staring with one paw uplifted and ears cocked, and turned her head towards the midst of the brambles, awaiting my commands. I quickly appeared and, sweetly encouraging them by name, I asked them to take and drive out the quarry. In flew the dog, and when she did so, out flew a bird, coursing its way through the clear air. Morphe could seemed to complain and, by her whining, humbly to acknowledge that she had made a mistake and offended the divinity of the little god. blue She barked uncertainly. Neither was my hawk Nisus, a keen bird of prey with his dark wings, able to give chase and, had my foolish mind and bad luck not prevented, that bird would no longer have existed in its size, color, and wings. blue
spacerCenomatus blue is said to have heard the sound of his quiver and bow and to have shivered with fear. But I pressed on because of my ardor and youthful years, and was swept on headlong through the cornfields and meadows wherever he fled. There was a nearby house standing amidst a garden, and it had a false front of red roses. I burst in, brushing aside the thorny hedge where it spread itself out at the entrance, and those red roses. In vain — for who could have caught the bird? — I looked about everywhere, dashing about with my pointless zeal. At length, annoyed at my dogs, my companions, and myself, I stretched out my weary body on the green turf.
spacer And behold, whether attracted by the sunny day or because some god had put it into her head, a pearl appeared, more handsome than the emeralds of the East or the gems sent us by the Indus and the fierce Arab. She was the first among the Caledonian girls, a rare glory of her nation. Just as ivory, unsullied snow, and lilies glow, the fair lily mixed in with the scarlet roses ,blue such was the splendor that she displayed with her young countenance and mouth, with the interspersed ruddiness painting her snow-white cheeks. Her sweet eyes flashed radiant flames, just as a double star gleams in the etherial heaven. Why recall the tresses flowing down over her ivory neck, or the hair she had arranged in a golden ball? Why mention her well-turned fingers? Her arms, fit for embraces? Or the snow-white expanse of her broad breast? Even if Phoebus had arisen fairer than usual that day, or if his rival the moon had shone with her snow-white horses, if Phoebus will pardon me for saying so, he seemed to be surpassed just as much as in his brightness he outshone that pale star his sister and, filled with shame, she withdrew her face from the sky blue and, aware of her shortcoming, washed it in the waters of the sea. Bested, she did not dare show her countenance again before midnight and once more display her visage.
spacer You might imagine that the divinities of the great gods had entered into a conspiracy against me and exerted their powers. To lend support to her son, the goddess of Paphus blue endowed her with the graces and charms of beauty. She gladdened the girl’s countenance, rendering her face and brow serene, and sweetly imparted pleasant sounds to her voice. With a soft smile she controlled the girl’s darting eyes, or lowered those sweet eyes with their gentle threats. Pallas had moulded her character by honest pursuits, so that it would be fit fuel for my flames. No other girl played her instrument better, striking its strings, or sang songs better to the sound of a complaining lute. No other girl knew better the secrets of the holy sisters, the secrets kept locked in their Aonian blue ridges. Phoebus had escorted her into the inmost recesses of the Pierides blue and led her through your house, Calliope. Since she dared even penetrate to the celestial pathways with her mind, Urania conveyed her to the stars of the lofty heaven, and to the poles, and beyond the stars to the hidden recesses of the sky, not to be visited by a human step.
spacer She was still redolent with these things. Keeping her hands and eyes lowered, at this time too she turned her face to the etherial sphere. While I was admiring these things, standing stock-still in amazement, wondering whether she was a goddess or a divine woman, Love perceived this, took up his bow and arrows, and admitted who he was, setting aside his guise of a bird. He briskly approached me while I was unawares and fearing nothing unfriendly, and pierced my side with his dart. Nor was it sufficient to strike me once, unless he were to take his hand, twist its shaft, and redouble my savage wounding a thousandfold. At the same time, he railed against me:
spacer “Go now and mock my bow with its arrows, my feeble little torches. Go, read your Socratic stuff, scan your learned screeds and tomes, for surely they will quench your flames. Phoebus will come to your aid, and the Lebethrides blue with their cool waters, and with whatever plant grows on Helicon’s ridge. It’s enough that you have been able to mock me with impunity all these years, this is the hour I’ve prayed for. Therefore you will pay heavy forfeits, though Jove be unwilling: perhaps this bait will deceive Jove himself. Now my desire is to place these chains on your captive neck and tread on your back with my angry foot. Now my desire is to get revenge for these long delays, Now this penalty will repay me for the prolonged tedium of my efforts, and with heavy interest. Anxious, you will torment your heart with constant cares, and no hour will be free of your grief. Whether you undertake Ceres’ tasks, blue or try to while away the lengthy times of your unwelcome days, or attempt to ease your sorrow with sweet conversation, or, unhappy man, with Orpheus’ lyre (an ill-omened fate!), whatever you may do, at whatever place, in whatever sanctuary, you will be wakeful, or only a light sleep will possess your eyes. You will be pursued by effort, anxiety, tears, and grief, care will gnaw at you with its great fear. Neglected, you will wretchedly bewail your love and your hopes, and find that your prayers are in vain.”
spacer Having thus spoken, he selected an arrow, one heavy with cold lead, from his ready quiver. With this he dispels the heat he himself has created, the fresh flame is banished from a gentle heart. With it he pierced the girl’s lively inmost being, so that there would be no mutual warmth because of his customary fire. You wicked, savage boy, the disgrace of every age of the world, allotted your haughty realm over Jove’s objection. Dire boy, your father was not a peaceful Mars, his arms set aside, nor was fostering Venus your mother. You were born of night and baleful Erebus, the Fury nursed you in the valleys of the Styx and the lake of Tartarus. Hence this boy has brought ruin on the earth, more effective than that which three-headed Cerberus spews forth from his unclean mouth. Monstrous boy, Tisiphone blue does not terrify our faces so greatly, wild when she takes up her flail, impious with her stern torch. Cruel Megaera does not torment a heart, conscious of its sins, with the pangs of woes so much as your flame scorches half-burned marrow, a flame yet more savage than the pyre of Etna, especially if some disgusted lover has suffered an unworthy love and the rebuffs of a harsh mistress. This heat is hotter than the furnaces of Enceladus, a punishment more dreadful than the thirst of Tantalus. Hence I have a thousand daily loathings, a thousand labors, and these are ample fodder for my tears.
spacer If my folly has sinned in any way, let me be chastised as you choose, Cupid, just put down these torches. Should I atone with my death? Why not? Death will be the end of my pain; for me, death will be a gift that pays handsome interest. I do not refuse to endure the stone of Sisyphus, the scourgings of Tisiphone and the Eumenides, blue nor even the penalties of the Aloides or the fetters of Prometheus, or the rapacious bird which plucks the guts of Tityus, and whatever punishments the fictitious inventiveness of bards once represented as existing in the pit of the Styx. Just let this harsh love depart, let it entirely leave my heart, and not increase my griefs. Or let the girl who has stolen my senses, who has taken away my wrenched-out heart and keeps it as a trophy of my true love, be friendly, be less harsh. Why should she not also feel the mutual wound inflicted by your arrows? But do not let this harsh love depart and entirely leave my heart, even if it should increase my griefs. Rather, let the girl who has stolen my senses, who has taken away my wrenched-out heart, keeps it as a trophy of my perpetual love. Henceforth let her not be over-harsh. If she too feels the mutual wound of Cupid’s golden shafts, then she will continue my companion down through the long years, and love will never loosen his reins, if your sweet bonds hold us both, Cupid, let her bear an equal share of this sweet yoke. Because I bear this now by myself, Pelion or the vast Caucasus seems to be set on my shoulders. If I could bear it I would be stronger than Hercules and be able to support the heaven and its stars.
spacer But I must bear this weight, whatever it might be, and it is not allowed me to cast off this yoke and break my bonds, since they were wrapped around me in so many twisty coils when they gave me over to my mistress in bondage, so that an inescapable series of knots would hold me tied and escape would be impossible by any artifice. And so the expiations for my sin are very harsh, my punishment is greater than I deserve. But you, if Cupid has granted you easy loves, if you reap rewards worthy of your faith in him, do not mock or jeer at my chains. I have seen that he who now sighs was smiling yesterday. Likewise, he who attests joys with his happy expression was perhaps drenching his cheeks with tears in the past. Cupid turns, no less shifting than fickle fortune, and spins his wheel on its axle. How he happily smiles, now he complains, sad-eyed. He flees, and in a little while is here once more. He is elusive, shifty, and ebbs and flows like the tide, giving proof of his ancestry. blue Yet every man promises himself an enduring love, albeit it vanishes on the round circle of its changeable wheel.

4. ELEGY IV blue

spacerThough I wear a false expression, and my sense of decency does not allow me to drench my face with tears in public, the darkness bears witness to my love, and the bed which receives my weary limbs is the only privy partner to my sorrows. Then I immediately begin dragging out my sighs until late at night and bathe my sodden cheeks with a rain of weeping. Just as Biblis blue once did, I melt into miserable streams and my blanket is drenched with my tears. Passing over me with her full circle, Cynthia has seen me and felt pity for my groanings. And now, if an unwelcome slumber closes my exhausted eyes, it tortures my heart with unhappy cares, sending dreams filled with ill-omened dread. One of the dead stood in my sight, delivering words such as these with a wispy voice.
spacer “Make an end to your tears, she is unmoved by them. Rather, if a flood of them drenches your bosom, she smiles. The wicked girl smiles at you in your loving, she scorns you in your loving, and with a harsh ear she rejects your timid entreaties. Poor boy, why fruitlessly weary the crags and cliffs with your complaints, her iron heart with your entreaty? What help is there in pouring forth your sighs to the deaf rocks, sighs for the breeze and the wind to snatch away, to no avail? Another man possesses the girl you love, blue embracing her in his eager arms, cherishing her, always clasping her to his bosom. See how she sweetly sports, her arms wrapped around his neck, planting soft kisses on his face.”
spacer At this point, when my terror had dispelled sleep, my bones quaked, and my ice-cold limbs shook with blood-draining fear. Immediately my mouth poured forth sad sobs, my hard hands beat my naked breast. My eyes were drained dry of tears, words did not suffice for my grief, my tongue fell silent without a murmur. When I was able to open my mouth, I either accused your missiles, Cupid, or your fires, goddess of Cytherea, blue or you, you wool-spinning divinities, cruel Parcae, complaining that the thread of my life was a dark one, or you, whoever you are who was the cause of such great grief for me, you who carried off the victory-prize. I pray that a thousand punishments (a number I scarce imagine exists in deep Acheron) come for your ruin, and that you live a piteous life, an object of sympathy even to your savage enemy, and that the span of your sorry life be long, and that when you have unhappily breathed the air of life for a long time, that your death may not be a hasty one, but that it come with sluggish steps. Then, should you chance to be buried in a tomb, I hope that the urn will weigh heavy on your bones and ashes. And, should my mistress be afire with mad heat, my unhappy wrath will curse my mistress.
But I am ashamed, and, suddenly prudent, I retract my prayers, this punishment is too linked to my woes. What should I imagine? That my dreams are frightening me with true visions? Or is this deceitful apparition deceiving my mind? Can you wrap your arms around an unlearned neck? Can you lay your head on an unintelligent bosom? Iron girl, do you prefer an unschooled lover to the Muses, having yourself been raised on the Castalian ridges? Sooner than that would happen, I believe, the bears who range the vast mountains and the notorious lionesses bred by the land of Africa would enter into a league of enduring peace, nor would the frolicking lamb fear cruel wolves, than you would deign to admit to your marriage-bed a man whom Phoebus and Thalia would drive far away from their sacred fountain. Pallas forbid: she who has bestowed her arts on you has refused to allow you to become unworthy of her gifts. Oh what an unequal bond they would form, if a learned girl were to marry an unlettered man! For them, Hymenaeus blue is not present, nor Juno, patroness of marriages, with her torches, but rather a screech-owl with its ill-omened song. There a full-throated Tisiphone will provoke squabbles, quarrels, and fierce battles, or create dissent with such strife that both wife and husband will lament their former single beds. For by no pact will their dissimilar minds come to an agreement, no matter how much marriage may join their bodies. For different manners and contrary pursuits will sever their bonds, their yoke blue broken. No common enthusiasm or frame of mind can be shared by them both.
spacer If you are carefully reading the verses of eloquent Vergil, or, perhaps, a work by great Plato, your husband will be no less devoted to his foaming tankard, and will keep at his drinking until late in the day. He keeps himself free for dicing or tobacco-leaves, insulting Christ by swearing by His arms, legs, and head, either exposing his soul to burning in dark Avernus or his bones to be gnawed by the hound of the Styx, as with his foul mouth he bawls about a thousand Erebuses, devils, and dark armies along the banks of the Phlegethon. Meanwhile you are trembling, your hair standing on end, less the wrath of an offended God come down on his head. You endure your loathing of this husband you have admonished, while this barbaric fellow laughs at you and your entreaties, you helpless woman. But had I a thousand tongues I could not enumerate all the benefits that come from the marriage of those linked together by a common interest and a genuine love. And if the Muses are present, bestowing their sweet leisure, what could Juno, what could Venus herself add to their marriage bed?
spacer You yourself (almost drowned, alas, in your pious tears) can testify what consolations the Muses used to give you, when they took pity on you and dried your great weeping, your wet face, your drenched cheeks with their long flowing hair. Had they not constantly brought aid with their sweet conversation, the urn would have enclosed you as well as that wretched husband of yours. Let girls marvel at Venus’ gems and gold, let embroidered cloaks bewitch silly brides, scarlet garments, bright silk gowns woven of fine threads that flow down to their feet. Let emeralds of the Orient glitter on their fingers, let them adorn their golden tresses with gold. Let the laurel of Parnassus be despised and without worth in the eyes of women whose dense hearts are oppressed by disgraceful dullness. But for you, indulged by smiling nature with a wealth of wit surpassing the empty-headed common herd, purple, lawn, cloaks of gold, and fabrics dyed in Phoenician vats were not so valuable that, with your learning, you would prefer them to the Muses. Let such boorishness be far removed from you! Let gems be heaped together with diamonds and jasper, magnet stones of the Indus, sparkling jewels and sardonyx, and furthermore whatever things are sent from the lands of Asia or what the Hermus bears in its golden stream and the Pactolus rolls along with its thirsty sands, offerings scoured from the corpse of Phrygian Midas, blue you will nevertheless prefer the Muses, since you are scarcely unaware what they provide to those they have praised with their loud trumpet. Penelope is indebted to the Muses for being called chaste throughout the world, since she deceived the Suitors with her outstanding artfulness, and likewise the consort of King Mausolus, blue for having drunk down the powdered bones of her husband. Babylonian Thisbe blue is indebted to them for her true love, and Hercules’ Deianira for her reputation. blue They brought it about that Sidonian Dido still lives, though her bones were cremated on a raging pyre. Perhaps they will also bring about that when Clotho breaks your life’s thread with her angry hand, you will survive your death, albeit against Clotho’s will, and no decay will deface your name.

5. ELEGY V blue

spacerIt was night, and silvery Phoebe in her rosy car was mounting to the zenith of mid-heaven. Mute stillness gripped the earth, and deep slumber possessed me while my weary limbs were tucked away in my soft bed. Lo, I beheld tender Love’s mother wafted through the air in her light chariot. I recognized her snow-white swans yoked together, by which her car is often returned to Paphus, blue and Chaonian doves, blue joining together their hard beaks (no other bird is dearer to the Paphian goddess). Her fair right hand clutched sea-myrtle, and a garland of myrtle encircled the hair atop her head. She was attended by delights, laughter, sweet pleasure, and welcome leisure full of festive sports. Unbridled Indulgence came as her companion, and out of her generosity she supported its nature with all her power. The god of the Lenaea blue was ruddy, his temples stained with must, and vines were wrapped around his buskin-clad feet. There the Dryades, and girls both married and unwedded led their dances through the happy fields. The wanton Muses dictated joyous songs, and with her art learned Thalia plied her sweet lyre. Singing sweetly, Erato fitted the notes of her voice to the lute, and made her words agree with unequal measures. blue In their midst was gentle Cupid, shooting these with his darts, and the bones of those with his fires.
spacer She herself moved along dressed in light clothing and the covering of a fresh green veil, her bosom bared by her loose clothing. Her golden tresses were like fine down, trained to be coiled in manifold ways. Her hair was scented with ambrosia and sweet loves, such as the cunning Arab vends at a great profit. blue Her eyes did not harmonize: the one seemed to smile, the other was weeping and wet with tears. Her expression was vehement, pertness hovered over all her carriage, and was settled on her snow-white cheeks. Languid and lascivious, she confessed her arts with her wanton expression, showing a neck was marked with love-bites. Smiling from a distance, although angry and threatening (my heart had become set on headlong flight), she said:
spacer “Where are you going, you fugitive? And why abandon my camp, you deserter, a camp you must follow because of your nature? Hold your foot, cease your vain effort of running. This flight of yours, if I choose, will be a slow one. Look, this quiver has arrows with plenty of feathers, and Love will strike your heart, runaway though you are. That sun you see, which shines so clearly with its orb and assaults the stars with its rosy daylight, is swift, and by swift snow-white horses is borne over the height of heaven and passes to join the golden stars. And yet with his lighter wing Cupid is his equal and this speedy boy’s arrow has hit flying breasts. Go on, put your trust in those runaway feet. Be carefree and scorn my son’s missiles, missiles which have laid down the law to axe-wielding tyrants, which have laid down the law to triumphant gods. I have taken the majesty of government and their awesome countenances away from these, and his forked missile from Jove, when he took on the false appearance and horns of a bull and troubled Agenor’s daughter blue in the salt sea, when he concealed himself under the guise of a swan, blue as he had been bidden, and when he assumed your appearance, chaste Diana. blue If we go back to times of the universe’s first beginning, and if we consider the deeds of our ancient ancestors, as many as were the satyrs, fauns, and great divinities of the gods for whom altars smoked with incense, you will account that same number of my triumphs in this bright world, the same number of myrtle garlands and trophies of my government.
spacer “Yet you are slow and hesitate to surrender your mind to love, you refuse to bear the chains which the gods have borne? If you can do this, I shall imagine that you are also able to rob the gods of their lofty halls. So either go ahead, lay your conquering hands on the stars, and drag down captive Jove from his citadel. Or if this is too much and you abandon that vain hope, submit your meek neck to Cupid’s yoke. Wear the same manacles on your hands that Jupiter wore, and make up your mind that you must willingly endure that which must be endured. Since your heart is liable to my flames, and your soft nature contains the seeds of love, you must submit: whoever foolishly strives to employ art to eradicate his nature will torture himself to no good end. Nobody can compel rivers which flow downstream to run backwards to a lofty ridge. Eagles do not abandon their fierce spirits, rabbits their timidity, the cruel wolf its rage, or the lamb its fear. We are borne where we are taken by our nature, and you resist in vain. It is allowed no man to discard his nature. Let the famous ruler of excellent Jerusalem serve as an example to you, the one whose name you bear. You should imitate your namesake concerning his martial deeds, his tender flames, and his sweet-sounding lyre.
   “Do not be swayed by the delusions of the common folk, who say I am base and guilty of idleness, whose manly virtue has departed, so that I am unfit for either Mars or the choir of Apollo. How well Mars and I agree! Mars does not love leisure, and leisure is rarely to my liking. Whoever loves leisure and is paralyzed by sluggish slothfulness begone, and keep far away from my house, for no goddess is more opposed to leisure. Alas, lazy leisure is contrary to my wishes. I prefer sleepless nights enjoyed until the break of day, so that days and nights are run into one. When damp slumber cherishes the land in its embrace, and when the night is still, skimming along the ground on darkling wheels, I banish soft sleep from the hearts of my servants and warn them to lift their limbs out of their sweet bed. I send them, carefree, through deep dales, rivers with uncertain currents, hard crags, and ridges hoary with snow, to the threshold of their beloved mistresses, and I bid them endure the tediums of their long journey. And yet someone will rebuke me for idle sloth! Ah, let Venus perish, if she is in any way slothful! Mars commands his violent fellows to scorn the currents of a mad whirlpool and to swim into mid-stream, and my Leander was not afraid to entrust his body to the rapid waters to seek his familiar loves. We both give fearless courage to our devotees, we give them a heart free of chill dread. They like to pass through opposing ranks and walls defended by battlements, to break down the gates they encounter, break open brass locks, and overleap the night watchmen.
spacer “In sum, my soldier has grown handy with his weaponry, and fit to join Mars’ cruel camps, sturdy in enduring all labors and vigorous in his strong body. You have heard (and it is very familiar even in heaven) of the device by which my husband caught and bound Mars. From that time love has joined us, as has the guilt associated with our furtive amours, so that no day will ever put an end to such great fires, so that no day will ever break our bond. Now he is more free in clasping me to his bosom and displaying me to his soldiers as his mistress. Now I sit among them as their queen, and I rightfully summon them to my mystic rites (though they are easily summoned), and those whom the day exercises in hard arms the night dresses in soft armor. Although they deal with both, how much more happy they are with mine than with those! And they prefer to follow the standard with me as their commander rather than him. With this dowry Gradivus blue has recompensed me for my sufferings, and the penalty (no great one) of my lost chastity. So you see that hearts keen for Mars’ battles are not slow in fighting mine. Thus the fierce son of Atreus, Achilles (such a formidable name!), and the fathers of Ascanius and Telemachus, the one dear to Mercury, the other to chaste Minerva, blue were unashamed to earn their stipend in my camp. And the more their characters were cultivated by the noble Liberal Arts, the fitter they were for my flames. No fuel is more suitable for my fires than men whom the Pierian Muses have nursed on their holy ridge, those to whom Pallas has granted a character free of savagery and wildness, with boorishness banished, those whose stern harshness Erato has tamed with her friendly candor, driving out their bestial ways.
spacer “Hence sweet-speaking poets, that most welcome crew, may indeed be dear to Phoebus, but are dearer to me. Together with their first milk they imbibe delights, the seeds of Venus, destined to stick fast in their young marrow. Oh how often the pretty face of a young girl has served as the cause and the subject of verses! Not to mention Nemesis, Lycoris spoken of by Gallus, and Cynthia, blue who by herself inspired an entire work, and the unfortunate divulged loves of poor Ovid, who has scarcely a page empty of my sports. What does the son of Maeon sing of save delightful games, sullied pacts of the marriage-bed, and agreeable love-intrigues? Adultery provided that great bard with his subject, Tyndaris’ girl, stolen from her Spartan husband. blue In him, Briseis is brought to noble-hearted Achilles, then all but set in Agamemnon’s bed. How large Dido looms in Virgil’s small book, Dido, that loving hostess to her Dardanian suitors! blue After Dido has disappeared, proud Lavinia comes to Aeneas’ Phrygian bed as his wedded wife, with Latium her dowry. blue
“Calliope has not watered her face with these flowing waters, nor has Apollo Grynaeus blue of Parnassus, the maidens of Aganippe have not dictated such sweet songs. Rather, it is love which speeds the sails of a delicate genius. Cytherea inspires their talent. Depart, you Muses, let steep Pimpleia blue obey him commands. Instead of the laurels dear to Pythius, blue instead of sweet hyacinth, I shall crown the Aonides’ blue locks with wreaths of myrtle. Let bards agree, their temples bound with myrtle, in confessing that their genius is my doing. For even if immoderate lust destroys a man’s strength and his character, I am not to be held blameworthy. Jupiter has never given poor mortals a boon that does not entail its own kind of harm, particularly if somebody puts it to unfit uses, at an unsuitable time, or in a wrong way. For example, nobody would touch a glass of cheerful wine who sees how it makes men unsteady on their feet. The satyr who was scorched by Prometheus’ stolen fire blue would prefer to restore it to heaven. What does not take a turn for the worse thanks to human ignorance, and a mind that knows not how to observe moderation in things? Let there be moderation in your sports, let them have their appropriate times, and let the girl you adore be unblemished. If someone oversteps these limits, I am free of blame, let him pay the forfeits for his own folly.
“But I am not commanding you to limit your sight to wedding-torches and a bed full of strict austerity. You may take pleasure in furtive amours, youth is fit for such loves, and sweet amours befit your years. This is an easy employment, it does not last for years, as long as a small time is devoted to my service. Consider Buchanan, blue how, after he ceased pleasing Neaera, his neck freed of my yoke, in more serious tones he described the splendid deeds of his nation’s ancient kings. And Beza, blue who now thunders from his perch in a lofty pulpit and shows congregations the way to the stars, once bore my standard in his early youth and sang of sweet wars with his tender trumpet. But now he is cooler when it comes to war, now less active age has bade him depart my camp, a soldier discharged. There will come a time when you too, free and having set aside your weaponry, will lead a life of leisure as a veteran. Meanwhile enjoy the sport of your age, let a pretty girl recline in our arms, on your warm breast. The tribe of girls is gentle and has a heart pliable for love, just offer them your pleasant entreaties. I myself shall be present with my son for a companion, supporting your wishes lest some girl refuse your embraces.”
spacer She made an ending. My mind was swayed and I felt my heart wavering, having now been entreated in such calm tones. Venus’ camp was to my liking. My constancy took wing and flitted away, now that I was conquered my resolute words abandoned me. I wanted to enter into bondage, and to return my neck, lately free of all servitude, to the yoke it had cast off. In my mind I was now thinking of roving amours and love-affairs, unconcerned about anything other than a mistress, when heaven-sent Religion suddenly presented herself before my eyes. Her appearance was neglected, yet decent and handsome, and her hair was not artfully dressed. She sought no glory with vain ornaments or lying cosmetics, nor did she smear her face with decoctions. blue On her fingers she wore no gold or gems fetched from the Orient, nor a skirt dyed with Tyrian saffron. Rather her simplicity (very rare in our age) was her beauty, and plain grace adorned her plain breast. Her inexpensive white dress, feigning no colors, was a mark of her pure mind, a mind that scorned vain endowments admired by the profane common folk and the riches of good fortune run riot. She trampled arrogance and baseless fears underfoot, and the broken arrows of mastered desires.
spacer As she stood at my bedside, very peacefully and with a kind face, and touched my breast with a snow-white hand, she banished sleep and slumber from my slow–waking eyes, and washed my slack face in the waters of Lethe. Immediately the darkness departed, the gloomy shadows, and darkling night with her black bosom. Light appeared as she shone with the splendor of her holy brow, visible throughout the house. She was such that for the first time, her veil stripped away, Venus seemed most base and cheap. Then for the first time her artifices, her cheats and deceits became obvious, since a false beauty was painting her shabby face. When her countenance was stripped bare, one could see that she was an unsightly Gorgon, with lips whiter than her wrinkled cheeks, but that she had painted her face with sweet poison, so that she might deceitfully drag poor men to their destruction, and that, very sweetly stretching the nets of the pleasures, she mixes bitter poisons with her deadly hand.
spacer “She bears joys on her brow, but joys tainted by bitterness. And whatever joys flow forth pass away on quick feet. Meanwhile gnawing cares enter the heart, and anxiety comes as its companion, together with fear. Sports turn into sorrows, smiles to sighs, and sad groans replace meaningless games. Either the stone causes the kidneys to burn, or sluggish gout infests and weakens the feet it binds. or dropsy causes the body to swell, flooding the belly with its fearful waters, or— a horrible thing! — the savage wasting-plague, attacking with the bane of its poison, consumes the sickly limbs (because of his iniquitous vices, God has appointed this as Man’s worthy reward for his folly): sapped of their strength, his exhausted limbs tremble, and, loosened by their feeble tremor, his skin palpitates. blue Sped forward, old age comes before its years, and a hasty death comes before its day. Nor is it enough that such base men are burdened by the body’s weight, and by its maladies are tormented in these unspeakable ways. Earthly lust turns men’s etherial minds and brings them down to the unclean ground, with its sweet care preventing them from beholding heavenly things and mounting up to the the lofty precincts of the starry sky, entering into their heavenly homes and joining the company of the pious, there where a light shines, never destined to perish, where they might enjoy true pleasures in their Father’s home, there where exists the source and origin of your happiness.
spacer “Oh, if you could now see these good things! Your deceiving lust would immediately depart, taking to its heels. The learned psalmistry of David’s lyre understands this, and it is attested worldwide in his sacred song. Let even his name serve you as a warning: blue be careful and shun amours, beware of the sinful deeds of forbidden Venus. How much this fleeting pleasure costs a man! How many tears does it take him to wash away his filth! Being a sin, it could scarcely make expiation by the death of a child. He who is wise would not wish to atone at such great cost. If my Beza once made a mistake and erred by imitating the wayward deeds of his age, when error beclouded his mind, that was the fault of his time. blue But nowadays what songs he sing thanks to his chaste Muses, striking his sacred lyre with a different sound! How ashamed he is of that produce! By what a different policy he has put reins and a bit on his life! How hatred rails and envy manufactures accusations, and how that lying shaven-pate crew is a-roar! There's scarce anybody dearer to me than that son, scarce another in whom I can boast to myself the more. Whether he thunders from his high pulpit, a teacher of the true way, showing the highway to the summit of heaven, or by busily plying his pen cares for the welfare of future congregations down through the long centuries, vigilantly accompanying his flock as a guide and companion, resolving the doubtful twistings and knots of problems how well he upsets the deceit and errors of the Roman tyrant, and profaned holy things with his angry hand! How well he depicts the delirious hallucinations of the ancient centuries, the tomfoolery of the hood-wearing crew! How he instills holy morals in other men’s hearts, the way of life he himself observes!
spacer “Now, if you are wise, you will take him as your teacher. Death will soon comes with unexpected steps. She often cruelly arrives at an early young age, not waiting for the appearance of grey hairs. Beware lest she attack you unawares with her savage sword, and lay her stern hands on you while you are dithering. Away with delays: you have no idea what the daystar may bring at its rosy rising, or the ruddy star late in the evening. The Lord Himself is reaching down His hand from high heaven, inviting you to the fiery precincts of the great sky. He Himself will be at your side, together with His Son and his Spirit. He Himself will help you, and He Himself will supply strength to your mind.”




NCE more, reader, I address you, nor am I embarrassed to do so. For you have the leisure, if you are the man I am seeking to address. If not, what are you doing here? Go away where you belong, poor fellow, go to your place of work, and torture and torment yourself there. Nor do I beg your pardon for this interruption. In fact, I deserve a reward, if variety purveys delight. I will not detain about many things, I just warn you of this one, that you should dismiss foolish fripperies. Sometimes you must gird yourself and think serious thoughts, and nothing here is not serious. Now you should not think anything is silly, I am not beating around the bush. Indeed I am undefended and offer you my unprotected breast. Here you can see me when I am wearing no mask: take a look and, if you care, take a close look. What’s the point in feigning piety, unless somebody wishes to be held in contempt? Nothing is less useful. Is this not the reason why — oh our blessed century! — hypocrites are growing more scarce? For nowadays no sane man shams. You may dissimulate, to the point that it is allowed, if you wish to be considered a prudent man, if this is to the advantage of yourself and others like you. This is the straight way to honor, that if you are a pious man, nobody knows that you are such. Trust me, he who lists himself as such enlists in the roster of honored, prudent men. So that when you see me as such, have no doubt that you are seeing my intimate self, otherwise you would not have caught a glimpse of me. I am making the contents of my mind plain, but perhaps I am not explaining them. You must understand what you read, and understand more than you read, than you are capable of reading, more than I or anybody else can explain. If you catch my meaning, you may reap the benefit and love me. If you do not, you you may laugh at me and mock me. I have announced this profit of my work. I am not unaware of piety’s reward, nor do I refuse it. Indeed (to make you laugh at me all the harder) I embrace you. Or, reader, have I managed to provoke your spleen? blue Are you indebted to me for a laugh? Lower that eyebrow of yours, don’t put on excessive airs. Nature has not made me a stupid man, as you may be thinking. She is our common mother, “and the sun does not harness his horses that far from our world.” blue He is our common father.
spacer And what you know is also known to me, and I know you, and I can make others know you too. Even your state secrets. blue Furthermore, am I in no wise your inferior, I am not the inferior of any impious man you care to name. This is the difference between us, that you do things I refuse to do. And I refuse because I am unwilling, not because, like that fox, blue I begrudge you your grapes. Indeed, when I consider you, I want to express the things you see here, most surely to express them, and, when I correct and recite them, to see them through the press. This is my true purpose, reader, that these things I impress on my mind you also impress on yours. I can scarcely hope for this: the awareness of my lack of talent forbids me, as does the tenor of my fruitful life. And yet I am doing this, and with seriousness. But I am not changing my title. What’s the point? A playful man can speak seriously, he can be helpful. And in order to be helpful it is often a good idea to be playful, or at least to pretend to play. But why seek to do this in verse? Why force my words into meters? Either to test my wit or to sharpen it: certainly I can be playful to that extent, my subject-matter does not prevent it. Why can’t it be preserved even when I am playing? Would that that were true even when I was sleeping, and that nothing else ever occupied my thoughts! So join me in playing the fool, and farewell.


spacerHappy is the man whose mind is not driven onto a devious course by his wickedness or by slippery error; who, fearing to walk on a sinful path, prudently checks his steps or turns back to safety in good time, still ignorant of how to please the profane common folk, and not yet scorning high Olympus. Meanwhile he is not behindhand in obeying God’s holy commandments, wholeheartedly embracing His Law and Covenant, and wakefully delights in them and clings to them with zeal, just as a tree alongside the abundant waters of the river Jordan reaches itself up into the thin air, tall, and clings by setting down deep roots, which no storm can overthrow though it stands in an open field; summer has burned it with its raging heats, nor the chill north wind has despoiled of the honor of its leaves. Rather, indifferent to this troublesome weather, it handsomely displays its outspread green foliage and its fruit in its proud plenty, which bend down its great branches with its weight. For God who favors his endeavors and prayers.
spacer But these same things are not true of the man whose heart is pricked by bitter goads, mocking and scorning God’s divinity. The sinful crew of such men likewise clings to the earth, it likewise happily thrives in its fruit, its foliage, and the strength of its thick trunk. But it is as if a wind, blowing up in a clear sky and driving a cloud of dust, twists that tree with its swift circling, playfully bending it now here, now there, and does not let it confide in firm soil. Thus such a man will not join the number and company of the pious. Rather, wretchedly longing for the gift of eternal life which the Father Himself awards to you, you holy company, with unspeakable sorrows he shall atone for the sin of the years of his life. For God, Who keenly looks down from His lofty throne, recognizes the ways of the just and will destroy the foul sins of evildoers, pursuing them with His avenging fire, and not hesitating to extract due punishments.


spacerHappy is he who, offended by the dark arts with their twisty turnings, by the intricacies of their deceits, and their sweetly seductive counsels, and likewise amazed by the puffed-up appearance of their success, does not travel by that route, or set his timid foot upon it. He does not diligently heap crime upon crime, persistent in his sin, until he gradually arrives at its pinnacle and, abandoning his sense of shame, impiously rails against eternal heaven. Rather, having lovingly pondered the Law of great Jehovah, he willingly obeys His commandments, with sweet care, spending his sleepless days and nights in pondering and brooding. He is like a tree planted alongside fountains and rivers, which raises itself up to the sky and stands firm against the harsh battles of the north wind and the riotings of easterlies and southerlies, imbibing the stream with its roots unmoved. Hence the honor of its foliage, fruit, and happily wet branches remains undisturbed, thriving throughout the indignant winter. A friendly God marks him with such honor on earth and heaven, beyond his hopes and desires, from high aloft breathing on him favorable good success, and speeding his endeavors.
spacer But he who has scorned God’s commandments and has with loathing cast off the yoke of His Law, running riot unbridled through right and wrong, does not imitate that tree regarding its fruit, its foliage, or its years, extending his branches from a great trunk. Rather, just as insubstantial straws are cast into confusion by a light breeze, or as a flame robbing ash of its weight is whirled about through the raging heat, he flits off and disappears into thin air. Therefore when the just Judge, hostile to sin, descends from the starry heaven, He will weigh the people’s sins in a just balance. Death-devoted impiety will not dare to raise its eyes upwards and look upon His awful countenance, or join its legions to the company of the just, having no share of eternal life and whatever gifts the Lord will bestow on the pious. For the God of the just, their Father, looks upon them with a friendly eye of approval. But with an avenging hand this same God frustrates the counsels of the wicked, destroying their authors in the very midst of their enterprise.

8. PSALM 88

spacerI appeal to You, great Father, the sole hope of my life, whether the shadows is falling or the rosy day is routing the star. Be friendly, lower your ear to hear this timid man’s entreaties, while he is able to pray, and mercifully heed my prayers. Now my mind, heaped with evils, languishes, now it is wearied, overwhelmed by their weight. Now death drags me to its pyre. As if a man’s fate consigns him to a ditch, and he lies hidden, his face buried under earth and far from the light, or as if the foul plague of hideous leprosy infects him with its taint and banishes him from his city to solitary dwellings, thus I lie, lowly and despised, a useless weight, a body helpless for life’s duties As pallid corpses fester in their dark tombs, destined not to return for an eternity of days after Your conquering hand has removed them from the realms above, and You have forgetfully abandoned them in the house of the Styx, so with Your mighty hand you thrust me into the pit, and into dark dungeons looming with night. The great weight of Your wrath lies upon me, rolling its deadly waters at full flood. My trusty friends, my consolation, who might soothe my anxious heart amidst its sad evils, are far distant. The rest of the throng, friendly to me in the days of my good fortune, has turned its back on me and does not come to display its pious care. Thus I lie abandoned, as if I were a man in a prison cell, so that now no way of safe escape lies open. Meanwhile let grieving weary my sad eyes, eyes turned to the stars of the ethereal sky. While I vainly make my suppliant appeal with hand and voice, my voice fails me, my exhausted hands lose their strength. Are You slow, delaying hope with Your support? Are You bringing help to me, now that I have been driven into this cave? Or do You prefer to exercise Your might amidst ashes and bones desiccated by the pyre? Presumably they will be reborn arise again to Your praise, and will extol Jehovah’s great name to the stars, in their graves they will open their mute mouths and hymn Your inviolate good faith together with Your goodness. Will dark shades acknowledge Your great deeds, and their pallid realms celebrate Your praises? Will Your law, by which You govern sea, land, and the sanctuaries of heaven, be hymned amidst the waters of forgetfulness? But I, anticipating dawn’s first light with my prayers, will not cease appealing to Your divinity. Why avert Your face, Jehovah? Why harshly reject my needy self and turn a deaf ear to my suppliant prayers? Poor, helpless, I am tossed about to my misery, and my sick life can scarcely drag on its feeble delays. From this side and from that Your terror besets me, and heavy horror agitates my anxious heart with savage cares. Fierce fury assaults me with its savage cunning, bringing griefs, and hastens to cut the thread of my life. It besieges me, as if bent on drowning my person in torrential floods, surrounding me on all sides with vast waters. You drive far away my sweet friends, those welcome consolations, and they have forgotten my familiar face. blue

9. PSALM 104

spacerCome, my soul, hymn great Jehovah. What You are like, above the golden stars, the mountaintops crowded together, the steep places! How great are You in your actions! Oh nurturing glory! Oh, You have put on Your majesty. You are surrounded by the brightness of inaccessible light. Oh high, You weave curtains embroidered with gold, a lofty ornament, breathing forth ruddy flames, and You bend them into an arched covering. Below these He marks heaven’s ceiling with liquid waters throughout the empty air, where He bridles and steers the swift clouds, like chariots, and, borne on the resonant wings of the east wind, He Shouts his triumph. The wind goes a-flying, eager to perform His command, and in its onrush it showers the entire world with its rains, not unassisted by the services of rapid fire, whirlwinds mingled with lightning, hail, white snows, and loud-thundering clouds. The seas, the sky, and its fires hasten to do their duty. The power of the immense earth stands firm with its mass, and weighs down its foundations, unshaken for all time, that vast earth over which the ocean once stood with its water, covering it and possessing its hills, until God’s voice with its terrible majesty, rife with commands, thundered and gravely rebuked the sea. Immediately it hastened its flight through the peaks of mountains and through hollow valleys, hurrying to confine itself in its prison. Now it is amazed at the boundaries set against it: guiltily it quakes at its bridle and with a roar it drives its indignant waters afar, vainly issuing threats to the world.
spacer Meanwhile, releasing streams from their dark fountains, You send them into valleys. Gliding downhill between grassy hills and pleasant lawns they roll their streams of sweet water, by which the generations of animals, the onager schooled to dwell in the forest, the fleet doe, and the lion himself may dispel their thirst. Nearby the great brood of birds twitters in the branches, raucously answering back to the noisy currents, and resisting rocks tear at the water. No less do You send down rains from the gathered black clouds onto drenched hills everywhere, and water the soaked fields from above. Immediately thereafter seeds swell up in the fields, and beneath the sky they sprout shoots of grains and grasses. This is the source of gladdening fodder for herds and flocks, this is a bountiful harvest for mankind’s needs Vineyards foam, full of must, overcoming cares. The olive thrives with its plump visage, helpfully banishing hunger, and the crop refreshes hearts wearied with much labor, refreshing their spirits. And the trees that rise under the sky, unbidden, in the unharvested forests on leafy Mt. Lebanon, the cedar and the cypress are wood destined to master the sea, but now providing much shelter with their branches for birds, where the stork builds its great nests. Next, the humped peaks of mountains rise up, looming over Lebanon and its leafy cedars just as much as those cedars overtop the hazel and the gentle broom, peaks inhabited by mountain goats, steep rocks with caves where serpents can lurk, bristling with protective thorn-bushes.
spacer By His decree the moon gives and takes back changes in things and the varied seasons, the golden-tressed sun runs its familiar course, following a path worn down by its own footsteps. And when dewy night has brought its dark shadow, the wild beast creeps forth from it lair, the fierce lion arises in anger and roars at its prey, humbly praying with the rumble of its loud voice, begging heaven for sustenance. But when the sun has brought back the day and shone once more with its beams, the beasts are hidden in the forest, and settle their great limbs in their dens. The human throng returns to the fields and resumes its work. It pleases them to resume yesterday’s efforts and to undertake new concerns until the sun circles Olympus again and evening brings back sleep, against their will.
spacerBut who can match such great and many lofty works of Your hands with his words? With your profound counsel You prudently weigh all things. It is for Your benefit that the earth filled with so many good things. This same thing is shown by the great ocean we see reaching its liquid arms into broad fields, it is shown by the winged flock. Now the small creeping things thrust themselves forward in their legions, now the huge beasts of the sea are raised and come swimming towards terrified sailors, sailors who have dared rig their sail-bearing ships and to churn the water with their oars and run before the wind. Now we have that handiwork of Yours, the whale, and as many monsters as are seen breaking the surface while playing at your rude sport, queen Neaeria, blue then turning themselves back into the frothy wake which follows their course as its attendant.
spacer Now everything the earth supports, and the air in its broad clear expanse, and the water in its bosom as it overspreads the globe, looks upward and fixes its eyes on heaven, demanding prompt nourishment. For You are only one Who grants this to be gained. When Your kindly hand is open in its bounty, everything is filled of good things and is satisfied and at peace. But if You avert your countenance a little while, they are thrown into commotion, their mouths agape. If you recall their souls, they perish, and disappear, having been reduced to their erstwhile ashes. But when the spirit of Your divine breath infuses their limbs and their frames once more, with how much progeny you fertilize the seeds of things, wiping away the squalor of old age, and restoring fresh years and happy youth to the world!
spacerSo let His creations praise God, let them give Him praise forever, which He may gladly accept and approve with a serene countenance, and let them, being well aware of His great hand, make their tribes mindful of what He will do, should they fail to comply. The terrified earth trembles at His avenging glance, the mountains flee, they fearfully ascend to heaven like a cloud of smoke, and their pine-clad ridges come tumbling down.
spacer As long as He indulges me with life, as long as the nourishing spirit makes my limbs to muse, while it continues to draw breath, whatever place, whatever hope or fortune attracts me, I shall always offer up praises, beneath the stars hymning His great name, His praise, glory, justice, and good faith. I shall admire Him for being generous and good. I shall be the first to sing, my keen ardor snatches me up to Olympus and sets me above the sky on a bold foot. Now I choose to scorn wealth and power, and to keep them under my feet. Now my heaving breast breathes You alone, nursing sweet concerns. It yearns for You and, rejoicing in You alone, my heart cherishes joys in its quivering fibers. And you, whoever you are, join me in daring to believe that the throngs of sinners, those names hated and loathed by heaven, which impiously rejoice in their widespread realms, are consigned to destruction and a dire downfall, and will not be permitted to leave footprints on their territories. Worship boundless God, great man as you are, and join me in offering Him boundless praises with a grateful heart.

10. PSALM 144

spacerKing of mankind, You are my rock, You are my hands and my arms, You school my fingers for war, and strengthen my heart in battle. With You my captain, I drive enemy ranks into confusion, I scatter their squadrons, I lay low their armies, their masses, and the vast strength of their men, I drive them as the victor, and I rout them like a strong gale.
spacerYou are the source of all I enjoy, You are my sure protection, my high, lofty fortress with tall battlements, my ramparts, and the lofty turrets of my walls. You dispel men’s furtive deceits and undisguised menaces, and forbid me, snatched from their savage jaws and now secure, to fear my enemies, and, amidst tumults, fighting, black rage, and furious missile, You protect me, safe behind the protection of Your shield. That I rule widely over peoples and willing nations, this is all Your doing: You support me, enhanced by my scepter and crown, You grant majesty to my rule, and add glory to my honor.
spacer But what is Man? Or what born of mortal seed can be such that You deem him worthy of such great honor, You Who support the world and the fiery realms of heaven with Your government, You who, as its steersman, wield the reins of things, far above all gods and divinities, You whom the deep amazement of this mad world adores? From the lofty heights such great rule You mercifully send down Your gift to such a vile creature, You condescend to dignify Man with the kindly sight of Your countenance, You undertake the responsibility of supporting him, and You gently nourish him with Your outspread wings, though he is lighter than smoke and air stirred by a breeze.
spacerFor, just as a shadow that hastily flits through the empty air in its flight quickly disappears, and its passing image deceives the mind like a dream, although it has scarcely been glimpsed before quickly disappearing, so the time of men’s life is short and, as if it were a fugitive second, an hour disappears, not to be recalled.
spacer So come, lower Yourself and come down from the high places of starry heaven, with Your hand just touch the mountains, swollen with ambition, and immediately they will disappear into thin air. Arm Your mighty hand with forked missiles and scatter these huge legions everywhere, these perverse men and cruel tyrants. And, Father God, stretch out Your hand and rescue me, Your servant, from the turbid waters, rescue me from those whose tongues are armed with poison, and whose hands adroit at working deceits. Thus my lyre and my ten-stringed psaltery will fill themselves with Your praises, hymning You as the helper of kings. It is You who must rescue David’s life from the jaws of his enemy: when he is fearful, hope of salvation now abandoned, it is You who keeps him secure from the drawn sword.
spacerSo stretch forth Your hand, Father God, rescue Your servant from the turbid waters, from those whose tongues are armed with poison, and whose hands are adroit at working deceits.
spacer And, just as a tall tree in a green forest, happy in its soil and in its climate, luxuriates with the honor of its unpolled foliage, spreading forth with its branches, and strikes the stars, thus may the progeny of my sons, the noble offspring of my daughters, filled with ambrosia and watered with sweet nectar lift up its fruitful spirits and head to its starry homeland and heaven’s bright realms, although until now it remains fixed in the earth by its tender roots, and they join themselves like marble walls, walls rising up like those of a living temple.
spacerLikewise, now that You have prudently clad us in mortal bodies, mercifully preserve us. Out of Your kindness provide these bodies with all things. Let not our silos be devoid of fodder, nor our barns of grain, let the abundance of flocks suffice for our farmers, let our fields and our pastures be filled with oxen sturdy for bearing the yoke, and with fat young bullocks. Let no throng of robbers disturb their soft sleep in their high-fenced pens, let no enemies assault our walls or threaten our gates, let no wild bugles of war call away our husbands from their wives for battle. Let not our halls, our palaces and streets, our resounding fields howl with the wails and screams of women.
spacerHappy those whom the Father Himself has mercifully indulged with such things, embracing His peoples with tender love. Happy those to whom God offers Himself, while they themselves worship Jehovah’s sacred divinity with their chaste prayers.



EHOLD your little boy (Melville, you second glory of your nation), betaking himself to another woman. But not betaking himself to another man. You cannot complain about this, or hold it against her. He admits you are his father, he is acquiring her as his mistress. And if he calls you to testify on his behalf, this is not done maliciously or out of childish empty-headedness, but so he may thus prove himself to his mistress and show that his case is a thorny one. Otherwise who in the world would believe him? But his love is both so true yet so moderate, so continual yet so interrupted, abandoned yet revived, disappearing yet constant, unbudging yet constrained by the bridle of paternal authority, abandoned as a lost ca¨¨´´and yet ending in a marriage after fourteen years in accordance with the will, the good prayers, and the insistence of her father, who had been so opposed. And would that you would affirm both of these things, so that he will not receive a whipping for being a liar by this scourge of tongues, or be mocked and hissed of the stage as a chatterbox and a fool, or at least a superfluous and meddlesome fellow. And yet he has scruples about lying, having imbibed that saying together with his mother’s milk, “ You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor,”blue and you are aware of all these things: you were my promoter, my supporter, my intercessor, and now, having been called to the witness box to give your testimony, you must give evidence: how long and how vain were the strivings of yourself, of me, of us all. If you do not comply, you see who I shall call, a man who is also privy to our secrets. Let him be a witness, let him sit as the judge over us and over anybody who chances to be unfriendly to us.
spacer2. Concerning my poetry (see how cleverly I bring it up), inasmuch as it does not please the public, I appeal to you; inasmuch as it does not please you, I appeal to the public, calling it and this century to sit as your judges. But how difficult to be approved by you both! While I want this to happen, perhaps both of you disapprove of me, as does happen. But I shall confess, I prefer to please you, to whom I am indebted if anything here sounds rather grand and welcome to my own taste. But be this as it may, I beg your pardon for my transgressions, since you are our literary dictator and in your own right you even go beyond being such a dictator, if, having begun an infinite work about our infinite God, I have not immediately finished it. But should one not take pains to introduce corrections, when a man has been easy on himself? Thus you may find choriambs and perhaps other features where I have knowingly and willingly broken the rules. If you pardon these, I shall think them to be pardoned by Apollo and the Muses. You see the authority with which I invest in you, which is assuredly a power greater than princes exercise over wrongdoing. Forgive me and love me. Farewell.



My soul shall make her boast in the LORD, the humble shall hear thereof, and be

11. ASELCANE blue

spacer[The soul] Oh soul, never sated by pleasure’s enticement, whether these are created in the liquid air, the sea, or beneath the very caverns of the earth, what is your madness, and what fiery impulse impels you? [does not acquiesce in any pleasure] So it is in vain that ambitious Nature shows you such great honors as, opening wide her bosom, she pours forth various kinds of wealth from her dark caverns. Here there is tin, here there are veins of lead, the strength of iron, and diamond, harder than iron and incapable of being overcome by any force, and Ephyrean blue bronze. [or the contemplation of created things, since these belong to the tomb.] Look at the rivers of silver and the mines of gold, which provoke avarice. Now chrysolith blue gleams fairer than gold, pyrope triumphantly shoot flames from its surface, and the dazzling carbuncle gathers ruddy fires and pours them forth from deep within.
spacer It would be tedious to catalogue the ornaments and delights of the powerful. What welcome pleasures are purveyed by Sabaean incense to God and to Man! What soft scents the Arab sends from his forests! But I have no need to wander so far afield. Look at your own countrysides, whether you are seeking a pleasing odor or clean air untainted by any foulness. [Various colors.] See how the earth, its hair well combed, blue dresses itself in varied colors: now it shines bright with ruddy gold, then it surpasses the snow in its milk-white hue, and at another time it wears a blue cloak and waxes proud, rivalling the sky. Let there be no absence of dark grey, black, or purple, purple unmatched by any Tyrian blue art in royal tapestries. The smiling fields thrive everywhere, nourishing our spirits and our eyes.
spacer Throughout these fields, untouched mountains rise up to the stars, deep dales subside, and fields are outspread as if on the surface of the sea. [Everything is delightful in its own way.] The form of this world is varied, and in its variation it redoubles its charm. The Po and the Rhone resounds with their loud currents, and the purple Tiber with its gently-flowing streams. In its wanderings, with its long embraces it equally wends its way around meadows, glades, leafy forests with their shade-bearing branches, and the laurel and the cypress, handsome with their verdant foliage. Arbutes and thornbrakes do not lack their own honor, nor the dark tamarisks. There is a pleasant horror in the uncouth rocks which stand up solitary in the breezes, and the caves and caverns of wild beasts are green with moss, scabby verdigris attacks cliffs, soothing our spirits and sweetly engaging our attention.
spacer Elsewhere an unmuddied spring wells up at the foot of a lofty cliff, and a rippling stream cuts its way through green fields and smooth stones, creeping along in its hollowed-out bed, and with its gentle plashing it invites soft slumber. The weary plowman stands, admiring its glassy pools and falling water, hoping for a drink, and stretches himself out alongside its full stream. Thousandfold tribes of living things which dwell in the fields quench their thirst. Here are shaggy nanny goats and wool-bearing flocks. Cows stand in their stalls, making pails foam with their snow-white nectar, though their udders still suffice for their calves. They give their innards to the fire, their daughters give their offspring for mankind’s, and yet in the meantime they do not complain about turning the earth with harrows and plowshares, nor to break up clods with rakes.
spacer Birds of painted plumage vie in filling the clear air with their song. The trackless glades resound, and the loud-echoing crags respond, so that the birds are all the more enthusiastic in performing their effort and outdoing themselves in singing in the branches. In the meantime Jove’s bird blue arrives and with its talons it snatches one of them in mid-song, coming close to stealing it away. He would have savagely rent it with his hooked beak had he not shown his shadow in the sunlight, and the terrified bird had outrun death by flying through the branches or the cover of dense thornbrakes, eluding its gaping foe. The shepherd himself, while from his high vantage-point he saw his work a-boil and his lambs frolicking through all the hills, scorned the thrones of kings, took a longed-for snooze on the lawn, closing his tender eyes.
spacer There is no less pleasure in contemplating the barren sands of thirsty Libya, the desert wastes of the Arabs, their fields watered by only a rare stream, and torrid thanks to fast-blowing easterlies and torrid suns, in contemplating trackless forests and the Caucasus, which strikes great Olympus with its lofty peak. If the report is true, living things do not rove any other places in a greater variety of shapes. There they dread the dire venom of the ground crawled upon by black snakes, the pools of water and grain infected by pestilence. But thirsty deer drink the tainted draughts, the water is tested by their horns. A legion of mountain goats comes down to the streams, as do shaggy boars, lynxes with their spotted breasts, and shaggy bears. The elephant with its vast limbs stands, as large as a mountain, raising his back up to high heaven. King Lion roars hideously and stands rampant on his hind legs, the sheep flee, and the cattle, unprotected by their keepers, take fear. The wild wolf is terrified in its woodland lairs and abandons its prey, half-devoured, forgetful of its courage and heedless of its wrath.
spacer [They are countless.] And, since we wonder at these many great things, our eyes can never stop roving or be sated with beholding, nor can our mind. [But they exist in one God,] As it widely scans the world, our intellect mounts up to the Author of things, and becomes fixed on Him aloft. From my earliest years He has been my first love, He has crept in and demanded a throne, being great, and occupies His royal palace in my heart. [who grants us to aspire to heaven and scorn the earth,] He has granted me to aspire to heaven and scorn this earth, its globe, and the empty things of this world doomed to die. [forgiving my sins, and bringing me back when I go astray,] In His Mercy He has washed away my ancient stain, the marks of my sin, freeing my quaking mind of its dread, and cheating the houses of Cocytus and gaping Tartarus. When I have gone astray once more, and once more slipped and fallen, He has put me on my feet and set me on my way, illuminating my footsteps with His light, and calling out encouragement. [to open spaces, where He feeds His people.] He has taken me by the hand and returned me, hesitant, to open spaces and happy pastures. This is a field redolent with the rich crops of the Arabs, nard and frankincense. There happy sheep recline on the grassy ground and roam all the hills. Now they sip ambrosia, now drink full streams of nectar, and overcome their hunger with heaven’s food. Or they gaze up at parti-colored rainbow Iris blue among the lofty clouds and ponder the Covenant and the sweet love of the Bridegroom: heaven and earth cannot provide anything to a young man thriving in the flower of his innocent youth comparable to His love. [Hence we have mortification.] They are unmindful of this earth and the kingdom they have left behind them. They do not brood on their urgent cares, vengeful warfare, forbidden amours, or the venoms of slander. Here a single love inspires them: more powerful than any fire, it burns away every manner of vice and, being sacred, seeps into their bones.
spacer [The tranquility of a clean conscience.] Thus they are immune to all punishment, and neither Orcus and Phlegethon, or Rhadamanthus, blue menacing with his voting-urn, the dire Eumenides, and the monstrous realms of Dis frighten them. Sitting aloft on His throne, the high King has exempted them from all judgment and settled them in peace, driving away their fears, and wiping the tears from their eyes. Happy offspring, those eternal darlings of heaven, whom, before the beginning of years, the creation of this globe, time and space, and the introduction of mankind into the earth, He had destined for the stars, condescending to be called their Father and dignifying them with the honor of being His children and his consorts, and whatever other title sounds welcome and important. With what voice shall I hymn You, Creator of nature? [Victories over spiritual enemies.] I choose to speak of the hardships of war, of Cupid’s arrows being dashed from his hand and broken, and Fortune cruel in both her aspects, of the assembled legions of good men and of their sorrows endured in such a number, and of the world, overcome by our Father’s might. Why should I speak of that Hydra that grows because of men’s lapses and death, I mean sin, that ancient brood of Lerna, and of its savage battles of destruction? Or of the scaly serpent with its great back? Or of the intellect, the leader in that war. See how it is now swollen with lofty pride, daring to wrench heaven open, disarm Jove, and mock his captive But then it becomes fearful and, aware of its guilt, shudders at its just desserts. While it denies it can be spared, and dreads, it falls into a state of collapse, and manufactures the lie that whatever thing it sees produced by the sea, earth or sky that is fair or useful for our purposes is a god. Now it creates it a shape, now a cult of worship. And men appease it with blood, I mean by the wretched sacrifice of their sweet sons.
spacer Undertake efforts worthy of your high virtue, oh you great offspring of heaven, do not be unworthy of such a great origin. What lofty glory awaits you in coming centuries! [Inward joys.] What joys you now experience in your quiet hearts, joys never to be tasted by the profane common folk! [Also external ones. Psalm 31:19.] blue What good things the Father Himself openly performs! For, lest their spirits break under an unreasonable weight of affairs, and lest ally themselves with evil, He has imposed an ending and a limit, with an admixture of happiness and pleasure, kindly granting them everything sufficient and delightful for their life, and He prudently weighs them in a just balance, determining what each individual nature can and cannot bear, [How far this is expedient, such as the bestowal of honor.] how much it will yield in the face of misfortunes, how much it will wax insolent amidst prosperity.
spacer [Abundance of wealth.] Having bestowed honors on them, so He indulges them with ever-enduring wealth Now abundance fully smiles on them, now their wheat thrives, enticing with its golden ears. And he provides them with a scepter and reputation among the peoples, offering them the Arab, the Sabaean, and fields once tilled by Idumaean farmers, setting their capacious boundaries with the surface of the waters, there where the Euphrates with its fair stream and the dark Sacorus blue water the Assyrian and the Pharian, and the shoreline teeming with tamarisk which the sea roars round about them with its Sidonian waters. blue Eastern Father Ocean himself is at their service. Golden Ophir, blue whence Phoebus steers his car upwards with its panting horses, does not begrudge its delights, its shining gems and its refined gold, nor does nature conceal any of its nooks from them. Their fields are rich, their flocks fertile, their buckets foam with milk, and their combs teem with honey. Their barns and their fields do not suffice for their crops, nor their vats for their wine or their vineyards for their clusters.
spacer Heaven and earth are agreeable to the world’s prayers. Winters are harmless, and heat does not damage the crops. The hostile band and its wild, devastating squadrons have sworn peace. Unguarded bulls are scattered on the grass around their stalls. A man’s house stands high, great, a hall august with its roof. In its vicinity, honored servants, girded for their task, hasten their work and overflow it with their long procession. [Marriage, children.] Now chaste love and worthy marriage-rites happily rejoice in their new child (for whom You have settled comeliness and the graces on its rosy face, and made them a home in its sweet eyes), The parents soothe their hearts with sweet hope, determined on giving gifts to enhance the heavens and the Thunderer’s great churches.
spacer [Like a father.] As when a father embraces an immature son or little grandson for many a year, and adds wealth or other realms to his wide farms, white flocks and many cattle, and is not forgetful to pasture his spirited horses, good in war and handsome in peace, bidding them produce their young in all his fields, and amasses gold, gems taken from the despoiled Indus, and soft silks. His high house shines with tapestries like a palace, and with everything which either nature or skilled human industry has produced for Man’s use. He cherishes the child no less when angry and crying over a rattle broken by his hand, and, smiling pleasantly, repairs it. Nor does he disdain, when asked, to give him a sword made out of bulrush, an elegant turban, or a smooth stone, blue white, or a golden apple, a chestnut, an empty nutshell, or a horse made of reed, play with him, and console him with crooning when he is ill. [True indulgence.] Not otherwise (if it is possible to attempt to describe something beyond human understanding and compare heaven with this familiar earth) our heavenly Father is more indulgent than such a father, just as He is greater than the stars. He opens all Olympus for his honored son, even though he has committed unspeakable sins. From there, too, He sets aside His height of majesty, has pity upon us, voluntarily takes on emotions, and hears us as we are wailing about many small, earthly matters, and often about childish ones. Ready with His help, he accomplishes our prayers and entreaties.
spacer [Psalm 31:20. Against poisoned speech.] blue Why does bold slander heap itself on any target in vain? Its tongue spews venom on a person and his reputation deadlier than an arrow shot from a Parthian bow. blue [and pride and envy,] There is haughtiness and unjust envy, and here we have the very bad habit of criticizing foreign ways, scorning them with our eyebrows raised aloft. What is not weighed in our scale? [concealing rash judgment, and allowing us to despise those things,] What can gullible error, or doubtful (or even wicked) suspicion have to offer the man whom You conceal under the shadow of your protective wing and keep hidden in your inmost recesses? [and enjoy oneself.] Meanwhile you bid yourself him all great trouble and quarreling, to remain the same, surmounting all turmoil, enjoying himself in carefree peace.
spacer [Not rashly involving himself in affairs.] Neither popular favor, nor hot-headedness, nor zeal for good works (great as it is) and passion, nor a heart devoted to God, displayed in undue measure, have carried him beyond the bounds of his duty. [Or basely abstaining,] Nor does escape from affairs, shirked effort, censure, or rumor, base softness, or seductive leisure make him indifferent as to whether his commonwealth stands or falls. Neither the dire hunger for gold nor dishonorable pleasure-seeking have excused this fugitive from undertaking great enterprises.
spacer [But, like a horse,] As when a spirited horse with a long-standing love of war hears the clash of arms and seeks to join battle, is thrilled to be learning of woundings, the shouts of men and the blare of bugles, and grows hot in its blood, and its indomitable heart and practised courage swell at the prospect of facing war’s perils, so that it would immediately rush into the midst of the enemy, fearless, [they wait upon God’s will.] and yet, obedient to the rein, it awaits commands, and meanwhile curbs its spirited steps, and prances widely around the battle-lines, still obedient to its rider and restraints. But when it feels the reins loose on its mane and the spurs digging into its long flank, and realizes its master’s will, it charges the enemy. Through bristling weapons, flashing swords, and gunfire belching sure death, no matter that fear might brandish itself before its eyes and ears, it spurns cowardice and faintheartedness. But if there is no call to arms, it is content to wheel in circles or hunt goats, taking delight in pointless play, and ingloriously lives out a peaceful life with its master, lowering its spirits for civilian purposes.
spacer [But with His inscrutable counsel] What man, great Father, can investigate Your counsels, wrapped in dark shadows and eluding human senses? [He employs those He chooses,] And who can investigate the secret reasons why You send this man to tend Your gardens, haltingly carrying stakes on shoulders unequal to the burden, and yet You supply strength to his muscles. But that man You send to faraway secret places, exempt from duties, though he bears much enthusiasm in his heart, much courage in his mind, and feels ardor for heaven. [And when He wants, as Moses after forty years, Joseph after his imprisonment, and David after his exile.] Perhaps You keep a tight reign on this eager man, intending to send him late into the fray, after many seasons of exile, when he has become accustomed to the herds and has abandoned his taste for crowds, the market-place and the court, and his high spirits. And that one was not deprived of his hope by a servile yoke, prison with its harsh fetters, an angry Egyptian woman, nor by the power of the monstrously raging scepter, supported by its authority and surrounded by companies of soldiers (although he may set such undertakings afoot in that aroused kingdom), the pride of his hostile enemy, the throng which had once been faithless to its friend, and the mockery of his forgetful brothers (or brothers not forgetful at all). Abandoned on all sides, condemned by the world, the object of jests, he became preeminent. Far distant from the high mountains of Hermon, and the hills which the river Jordan waters with its modest streams, another one dared establish God’s temples. He solemnly announced this wish, but forestalled his triumphs by dying in the middle of his enterprise.
spacer [so that he who seems to himself to be useless,] You too, whoever you are, should not be over-hasty, although the years are hastening by, you on whom (as it seems to you) the bronze hand of the Thunderer has written on an iron tablet, A POTTER’S BROKEN VESSEL, a man for whom artful human wit has discovered no purpose, not being useful for the carrying of fire or ashes, like a stick, ROOTLESS, broken off and withered in the barren field of its paternal tree, like a lonely women, mourning at night her widowed bed. [should not be despondent of spirit.] Do not despair in your mind. You have no idea that Jehovah’s great hand awaits you, hastening to your help. When all else fails, how quickly it comes to the pious! [God is closer than one imagines, just as he was Jacob’s companion in exile,] See how the son of Isaac departed the Promised Land. But he was a great exile, he made his way with his sides guarded by heavenly bands, and now an angel of the Covenant went along as his comrade. Unwittingly he fell asleep in the house of God. Now he became accustomed to win at wrestling, and he met heaven’s encampment. [a guardian for him, unawares, reconciling his enemies to the timid man.] He was wakeful, he slept, he delayed, he hastened on his ways, unwittingly protected by God’s presence. He hesitated to meet his angry brother or his father-in law. God’s hidden power subdued the brother and the father-in-law, [Wealth.] and now, with them not objecting, He bestowed on him property, servants, sheep, and cattle. And indeed, so that his wishes would not be frustrated in any part, He gave him his sought-for marriage. [Marriage after fourteen years.] He gave him his sighed-for Rachael: if the harsh Father had delayed the marriage for fourteen years, at length He grew friendly and favorable, praying for good fortune and prosperous times for their chaste embraces. He gave her into his embrace, and obligingly commanded that their prayers be granted, although his advanced age was now laden with pains, and his hope had been buffeted by his various sufferings and fear had intervened. {Giving him children of good beauty and hope.] No long time passed before he blessed them with happy offspring that made their marriage fruitful, and breathed graces of beauty upon them, and welcome happiness pleased their father. [Joseph’s dream.] If any power of foreseeing good ever seized minds, the moon and the friendly sun saw this man preferred to themselves and revealing God’s unknown will to Pharaoh the tyrant, things which made Orcus tremble and Memphis itself go hungry, showing that the world was wrong in accusing him of arrogance and cunning. Do you see? His lofty piety set him on the throne, nor could he now be accused of sloth, nor of lurking in base idleness.
spacer [All this was God’s work,] This, great God, was Your handiwork. Neither human deceit, nor error, nor virtue could achieve anything. You bind adamant hearts with Your iron chain, then you secretly add locks, prudently checking those who are, perhaps, over-hasty. Likewise, when it seems right to You, Who alone know the proper seasons, and prove to be the superior when a man’s hope is abandoned, his will broken and submissive to Yourself., You shape men’s senses gradually and contrive delays, weaving an incomprehensible plan which makes the common folk, ignorant of the truth, rail, complaining that it is inconstant. [so that others complain, but the man himself marvels.] But the mind aware of Your handiwork is amazed and will be amazed forever, and will proclaim this to an unwilling world, and the enduring report of it will be admired in later years.
spacer [He will add more to fulfil their hope,] Therefore You will add another child, and the house of Your servant will stand supported by just so many pillars, a house which will be built on solid rock, so that the power of no storm may arise and drive the hopes of the man who trusts in You, Jehovah, onto the rocks. [who will serve God in His church,] Let just as many marble columns rise up in Your living church, let new husbandmen till your soil labor in God’s field. blue Why boast of your peaks, you mountains, great Zalmon and proud Basan? blue If God deigns to make the hills equal to these, cannot He make the tamarisks as great as the vines, the willows as tall as the cedars?
spacer [Hence the author offers up thanks, at every time and place,] Whether the dawn glows with its rosy car or evening falls with its late light, I hymn Him with both my mouth and my mind. I swear so by the hazel trees and knowing rivers, the Monynut, blue which washes cultivated and wild fields in its course, the Vobetus, which makes gorges with its gentle current, lightly plashing, and the Quaire, which hides its waters among pleasant willows, ; and by the hilltops with their covering of thin tamarisk, smiling with new growth in the springtime. Or when winter is chilly, I like to enjoy the winter heat amidst their sunny dales and enjoy the clear weather. And you, you cottage scorned by others because of its lowly roof but great in my eyes because of the presence of God, and perhaps the foundation of a greater house that will arise, [and condition,] someday a capacious hall for my children and later grandchildren, or perhaps not destined to be built by any endeavor, if thus He wills, He to Whom I have prudently entrusted myself and all that is mine, and am determined so to entrust for all time.
spacer {because of his wife] And you too, my beloved, once a partner and the cause of my sufferings, but now of my praises, take this great consolation for your grief, being scarcely unwelcome in God’s sight. He redoubles the bonds of our love. After all this time, join me in acknowledging this and learn to have faith. [Barbara, content with her lot.] Meanwhile do not disdain our little home. Now you should rouse your mild spirit. {Thus a mother names her son.] Nor, Barbara, you should you disdain these fields, dedicated to the Muses, bearing a name designed to advertise to your district that they belong to heaven. Oh, you should not prefer the cultivated parts of Lothian, or the shores which Father Tweed and the sunny sea make fertile with grain. Rather come now, dare scorn small things, and believe that you are great thanks only to your piety (oh you model of true, rare love! May the centuries study you as they roll by for — and I would be so bold as to tell envy it may go burst its guts — you are a great glory of the female sex), let this one love make you burn, add this one thing to your great virtues. If however (and this is permissible, in some fashion) considerations of advantage affect you, see how unstinting they are. [A lot not entirely to be scorned.] Vying with their gentle shades or their cool waters, many fountains send their waters through leafy woodlands and bright meadows. God has placed forests on its ridges, bidding them give shelter against heat and cold, not cheating our fireplaces or our honeycombs of pine or willow branches. Hence we have golden honey, hence our cattle and our shining wool and the flocks that produce it are unharmed by the north wind. Why bother to mention the nectar of milk we have in streams? Nor are our hills, raising aloft their dark tops, without their uses. When flames crackle because of the fire-bearing winds blue and the power of the sparks has consumed the withered ivy, opening up the channels and the pores for their happy juice, blue these hills provide our livestock with healthy nourishment and the offspring of our flocks graze fresh grass. Or it provides Vulcan’s fodder for fires late in the year and the winter hearth, for which the Merse blue trades the produce of its fields [...], nor is it foolish to do so. Yet Ceres does not despise our own glens, a happier or taller crop scarce grows on any land, sufficient for the owner of the land, and bound to grow for their well-deserving husbandman.
spacer These hills acknowledge you as their sole mistress, they lower their tops and kiss your feet. Our best Father bids them be yours, as He commands this to be your home and your lot in life. Regard your tiny realm with a happy face, be kind and come. Join yourself to heaven where it summons you. Here too you can raise up your holy hands, enjoy a chaste marriage, and offer up praise to our admiring and kindly Father, generous and good, Who gives more and surpasses our prayers with His gifts. Nothing prevents you. Here are your people, your servants and bashful handmaids, here a mother can be accompanied by a sweet escort of sons. And it will be to your advantage, far away from the contagion of the unclean world on our harmless hills and in our clean valleys, to despise the court, teeming with crowds and the haughty uplifted eyebrows of those in power, the delusions of the fickle commons, the people vying with each to commit crimes and acts of foulness, our times, which are impious, damned for their unspeakable deceit, and brothers conspiring to break the laws of nature (whether it is ambition that has made a man go astray, or bitter envy, or the dire greed that seeks to acquire everything, that insatiable Charybdis, or a suspicion that has abandoned honesty and is prone to take everything in bad part, something that one must flee, even if this means going beyond the fierce colds of mountainous Ierna, blue beyond Thule, and beyond the very Bears). On these hills, perhaps, you will join me in consoling yourself for your grey hairs.
spacer [Because of his children.] And you, who fill your cradle with your gentle crying, Aselcane, it is not easy to me to determine, or for you to to put into words, with what hidden feelings the divine power is now stirring your breast. [who must be schooled in this] But soon, when you are able to mumble your first syllables and say the delightful word “Daddy” with your lisping lips, together with “Daddy“ may the great word “God” fill your mouth, which is more important. In no other word will you take such delight, or more frequently, and nothing will be sweeter to your father’s ears. Now lift up your young hands, and soon you will be raising up your eyes and your mind to heaven, you must mention it in all your conversations. Ponder this single thing in your mind. Let this vision alone appear in your dreams. Meanwhile, just as your years increase along with your body, let your great love for your heavenly Father increase, let it drive its pricks deep into your heart. Let it furnish you with heaven as your homeland and true home. Oh, then you must please me and look up only to to the stars, then you must aspire to the stars in all your wishes.
spacer [by himself, if he lives] Thus, oh thus, may the first rudiments of your maturity and future life come to be formed at an early age! If my life survives into its late years, and the powers remain strong in my thriving body sufficient to permit me to do my duty, this shall be my concern above all else. I would not prefer the purple-hung tapestries and halls of kings. [with God’s help.] If only You are present in Your greatness, Father, and aid me in my plans, I shall come, with a friendly hand I shall lead your doubtful self along your obscure paths. I shall go before you, setting examples after you have been turned away from the common folk, the well-trodden paths and crossroads, to set you in heaven, far from this world, on tracks marked by no footstep. I want to show an admiring world a memorial of God’s great handiwork and the great goodness of His works, a mark of His fostering love, and of my grateful mind.
spacer [Or, if he dies, the boy’s care is entrusted to God.] Or, if the Fates, or death, or any accidents prevent, then You, oh Greatest of things, who have bestowed this boy on me, must carefully deign to undertake his care and education. Fix his little eyes and impressionable mind on Your image. Assume this arduous government Yourself, and nip the happy growth of the vices in the bud. [with the evil of sin uprooted,] Uproot them entirely, so that no filament left behind by You might grow back. Remove the venom of that reviving Hydra. It rages, and will bring destruction. And, if You do not suppress it with steel and fire, it brings death, stealing into the veins and the heart. Behold, this is Your handiwork, Who break the savage scepter of that wild serpent and shatter its person. With that same power remove the stain of First Sin and its poisonous seeds, lest they hinder Your servant and Your son, lest he not be determined to heed all his father’s government and commands and willingly bear the sweet yoke of him who is determined to uproot him, his desires, and his spirited heart, and entrust him entirely to Jehovah.
spacer [and vices abjured,] Thus, when a sturdier and stronger age has brought you, and, after having attained life’s wooded heights and steep places, to mature concerns, your ardent virtue will plant its goads in your heart, [with their sloth,] sweetly banishing lazy idleness. [avarice,] Oh, may the wretched greed for wealth, creeping along on the ground, not sink you down, [ambition,] or unsound ambition bear you up on its wings of vanity, light-headed, [lust,] or degenerate lust turn your head, wielding its harsh goads, its dire poison, a bane to bodies and minds. This is the sole subject worthy of your efforts, this is the only threshing-floor where you should wish to exert yourself. Let other men subdue battered walls in warfare, and bring nations to their destruction, let them wax proud, their hands stained with innocent blood. You must conquer high spirits, an ardent heart, and passions that rebel against God, and, having driven them in a circle, employ your government as a victor. {arrogance,] You must learn not to admire yourself and your innate counsels, nor ever to trust them, so that no personal prudence or will might drive you hither and that. This is the single lesson I have to teach, and I shall always teach you with my warnings. No bane has ever been produced by the Stygian marshes as dire as that which arises when self-trust has become inflated and in its arrogance has filled one’s foolish mind. In result, God and Man are held in contempt. In result, right and wrong are turned topsy-turvy, and the sacred law of friendship. Hence either a menacing face or pride ill-concealed behind a peaceful countenance, making everything go according to his whim, when a man thinks himself alone to be wise and (the fool) weighs everything amiss in his faulty scale. You must go your own way, trusting yourself and all that is yours to God while mistrusting yourself. Let only that will motivate you, let prudence rule your questionable senses.
spacer But I will not undertake to prescribe what life’s career you should enter or what is the best path for your feet. [In whatever manner of life,] At the very outset, this would be a great task deterring him who would undertake it, something that one would not be eager to do, especially so many years in advance of the time your bright nature (now concealed during your infant years) offers any sign of itself, coming forth into the light of day. Even at that time this is no easy matter: often virtue anxiously wavers between mankind’s thousand paths and their contrary desires.
spacer [whether public, for example political,] This man’s love and care for heaven, not allowing him to sit torpid in idleness, brings him into the public eye, and involves him in affairs both as an ardent young follow and in the hoary time of advanced age. He enjoys no pause, no rest. [or waging pious war] That one suppresses rampant crime by issuing orders, or, a great man, shatters enemy arms with his pious ones. [or by pronouncing the law, such as ecclesiastical law,] Here we have a man who dictates sacred law to his obedient congregation. He bursts into heaven and harvests its lofty riches, easing the burden of things with his sweet nectar. And now as their conqueror he rules men in their bones and tender marrow, and in their inmost hearts, as a two-edged sword of the divine Word. blue The unschooled flock is amazed, their pastors’ minds are entranced. He himself, likewise unschooled, is amazed at his words, which belong to divine eloquence, and not his own.
spacer [or private, amidst domestic concerns,] Another man exercises sway over his children, servants, and household within his unbegrudging kingdom, and becomes accustomed to the use of pious equity. He is not inferior to his ancestors. Exulting, he has the audacity and the ardor to expose his dear soul to open risk and overcome all exertions, keep on the march, and gain the palm amidst arduous circumstances. But he is moderate and self-doubting, he pauses to take a breath, and he prefers to pin his wishes and hopes on high heaven. And the Father indulges him with pleasant dreams and with good things, enhancing these humble concerns in his great heart.
spacer [literary pursuits.] Another man pursues the Muses and a leisure that is not disgraceful, and of his own free will buries himself in the Pierian caves, scorning this troubled world and its terrible tumults, and effort wasted on pointless things. He himself remains fixed upon God and fills his heart with worthy concerns. Happy man, if all goes in accordance with your great wishes!
spacer [All of whom should have as their goal the image of our kindly God.] Whatever your choice may be, do not model your son after yourself. Rather, you should explain to him the things with which heaven out of its goodness, together with the conspiring stars, fills this globe of land and sea and its expanses. You must live happily not just for yourself, but for the whole wide world, as much as you can and as much as it wants you. But, although your ardent mind yearns for this one thing, do not be hasty. [Content to express this as He desires.] Rather, be assiduous in assaulting God with your words and your entreaties, praying that He lead you to suitable things, to the best of things. Do not seek something yourself, nor shun it. It is enough to keep vigilant in the doorway, like a watchman. Or, if not in the doorway, at any place at all, until the holy threshold of an august house receives and protects you. blue Do not be concerned about a lofty pulpit or the sublime seat of a honored stall.
spacer [For we are in His hands like babes,] It is as if; when a babe, weaned from its milk and first breast, is bemused, knowing not how to manage itself, it is gently transported now here, now that, carried about by hand, now sleeping in the upstairs bedchamber, now bawling as a burden in its little cradle, either next to the hearth or in the bright sunbeams. [with no wisdom of our own] He cannot tell the time for sleep or food, but solely depends on his mother’s choice. He entreats her, he looks to her alone, and holds his silence. I bequeath you these insights as if they were the patrimony of a large estate, I bequeath you these statues, these titles, this noble pedigree.
spacer [The gist of wisdom] Prove yourself worthy, and out of your greatness of spirit only take in hand things that are truly important. I should not envy kings their realms and their orbs. Let not the reputation of being a good man nor the glory of being a learned one trouble me. Let those to whom You have granted them have these things, bountiful Father. [bequeathed to posterity.] Let it be permitted us to obey Your commandments. Let this one thing make us known someday, let it be our concern to bequeath this one thing to our posterity.





spaceram addressing you for the third time, reader, and now I present my praises: but these are serious but they are far removed from flattery. I have not always wanted to attract the attention of those I have praised, and have not taken pains to draw these poems to their attention. I have wanted to be helpful to them, should they have come to their attention, and I have employed my pen in such a way that my poems would display genuine praise, and that they would be instructive. But, being so sparing in my self-appraisal and rather prone to diffidence, this has been my wish, yet I have not hoped to accomplish it. And, if I have been sportive, I have not failed to embrace the truth. It is my religion not to swerve from this very much even when being at play. On the other hand, do not reject my hyperbole, that isa superstition. You should not praise virtue only in its extreme form. It is sown as a small seed, and grows into a small plant. It feeds on praises, it grows thanks to praises, and in the end it proves supreme. Why not irrigate it with this water? Why should I not support it wherever it shows itself, being such a rare and costly plant? This is particularly so when it manifests in in conspicuous places, which it almost always shuns in its search for humble ones, and so is not seen in this century save by a miracle. Hence we must strive all the more that no hope of it should perish, and all of us who love it should strive with all our resources. I can claim to be among the foremost of these, if you consider the love. If you consider the resources, perhaps I may lead the rear guard, and would that I could do even that! But that is for someone else to judge. Meanwhile, it is time to get down to business. Here I do not praise everybody who is deserving of praise. How could I suffice for that task? I do not even praise everyone who is highly deserving. You are asking too much, and I am not catering to your opinion, nor to my own. I have not chosen my subjects, but rather have accepted those recommended by my affection, sometimes by a friend, but most importantly by happenstance. Thus is the way of free and playful poets. Farewell.



Thou who but lately didst endure the smart
Of roughest stormes, and with a Pilots art
Hast scap’d the many dangers of the seas,
O Angus! now in place of wished ease
New troubles come: I know not by what fate: spacer5
Keep your great spirit firme in every state.
Shake off sad thoughts, and let your looks appear
Chearfull, without the darkning clouds of fear.
Deep cares expell, let not impatience haste
Those ills, which of themselves approach too fast. spacer10
Poor worthlesse soules are prest below the weight
Of light afflictions; to a noble height
In crosse affaires doe thou thy courage raise:
By this thou maist obtaine deserved praise.
He merits honour, and may justly be spacer15
Esteem’d a man, whom no adversitie
Dejects, nor prosperous successe swels with pride;
But by a constant temper doth abide
Still like himselfe, and with an equall minde
Both fortunes beares. Let every boistrus winde spacer20
And threatning wave oppose his labouring oare,
He steeres his course, and seekes the wished shoare,
Slighting the angry waters chiding noise.
Let these (like hard) examples prompt your choice:
Learne to meet ills, till you with all compare spacer25
For fortitude admir’d: Ulysses bare
Worse harmes then yours; a stranger, poore, alone,
Uncloath’d, an Exile, wandring and unknowne.
Aeneas and Antenor suffered long
Ere Rome was built, or Venice: but I wrong spacer30
Our owne, to dwell on strangers, since there be
More store at home: marke the whole Progenie
Of Douglasses your fathers, how they are
Fam’d for their gallant acts in peace and warre:
Each worthy was the glory of this time: spacer35
None without vertue can to honour climbe.
Looke on all ages, you shall hardly see
One rais’d by fortune, but through miserie.
Who live at ease, and least disturbance feele,
Soone beare the mock’ry of her rowling wheele. spacer40
How many traines hath peace? What discourds warre?
What troubles exile? Yet no pleasures are
Obtain’d but after toile; nor have we rest
Till dangers and difficulties are past.
So thou, when this is past, hereafter may spacer45
Injoy at home a calme and pleasing day:
And to your dear friends chearfully relate
The sad effects of Fortunes sullen hate:
Sad now, but pleasant to remember, when
Your prentisage [apprenticeship?] hath brought a noble gaine.spacer50
This is the way: would you a great name win?
Then tread the steps your Grandsires travell’d in.
Where Vertue, Fortune, where your God doth call,
Follow: my thoughts deceive me, or you shall
Excell those Worthies who alreadie are, spacer55
Or will be famous: so the starres prepare
Your youth. Faire vertue never dwells alone,
Hard labour is her neare companion:
Un-easie taskes she loves, and joyes to beat
The roughest wayes, and triumph over fate. spacer60
Be bold and onward, take your mounting fight,
Till you have reacht a true Olympian height.
Be bold, I say, and let no furious winde
(Though earth and hell should mix) shake your brave minde.
Onely with God, whom you must still adore, spacer65
You may be instant, and his aid implore:
Let him direct your course, and he will be
Your Pilot through the waves of misery,
Steering your barke by every Rocke and Shelfe:
Each strait and wheeling Poole His sacred Selfe spacer70
Will guide the Oare, first to a place of rest
On earth, then after death thou shalt be blest.


spacerLately, when Mars visited the warlike English, he saw you and imagined you to be his Venus. He came up to embrace you, and was about to plant a familiar kiss, but a virginal blush suffused your countenance. He saw this, so he said, “Is this daughter of the blonde Britons confusing me about my Venus? She who once was the fairest in all heaven now at length finds her equal on earth. Once upon a time, had Paris seen this woman from his Phrygian mountains, no prizes would have been awarded to the Paphian goddess. blue But why are the Muses hovering around her learnedly eloquent mouth? Am I wrong, or does no trifling error possess them too? Do golden Calliope and her learned company imagine her to be Minerva? Obviously, I have been deceived by this virtue, these manners worthy of Pallas, your reputation for chastity (scarce an empty one), your character, your prudence (assuredly greater than that of your sex), and the gentle elegance which flows from your pleasant mouth, your sweet, happy eyes, serene countenance, and breast whiter than fresh snow, and your face, superhuman in its comeliness, and likewise your well-turned fingers and milk-white hands. With those hands you also wield a scepter rivalling that of ancient Troy, which I think no whit inferior when it enriches those it chooses, when it bestows honors. What more can great Juno do? Is it that she is destined to endure, living through all the years, and conquering the proud Fates with her own fate? But since the unstinting divinity of the Muse, grants you this, a divinity not unfriendly to its devotee, let Saturnia blue bestow titles in vain, let her boast of her wealth. She is bested by her own gifts. Though she may compete with Venus for beauty and surpass Pallas in prudence, on earth you will be Juno, Minerva, and Venus.” blue


spacerIn the things in which Venus, Pallas, and that great goddess Juno once were individually preeminent, you can excel by yourself. You are not Venus, you are not Pallas, you are not great Juno. You are greater than Juno, Pallas, and Venus.


spacerHoly Phoebus, great patron of great bards, from whom nothing in past or future times is hidden, blue when chaotic markets hold such a various hubbub and Galen has no small camp of his own, tell me why you are ignominiously invisible to all the world. Why does someone rarely take up arms on your behalf? It is obvious that a single letter must be subtracted from your laurel, let it lose its first letter. This is a letter hateful to the Pierian Muses, and not dear to Phoebus’ choir. Let this one letter be removed and you will see whole battalions of ardent men come a-running to your fountains. Take away that L and what was laurel is now gold, and thus, I imagine, for many men crowns that were laurel will grow welcome. Give me this reward and I, who follow you unwillingly and struggle against you in my sloth, will be first in line.


spacerThe English have their fleecy flocks and are rich in cattle. Let tipsy France boast of its vines and strive to match the Falernian blue of Campania, if any grape grows red in the fields of Gascony. Let Lydian Pactolus roll along its gold-bearing sands and let the Hermus meander with its rival waters, blue and let the Tagus stream strike the ruddy fields with their clods, empurpled where it carries its gold. Moesia blue may admire its grain, its fertile hills, and heavy stalks. Let Sicilian Hybla blue take pride in its honey, Methymna in its slowly-ripening clusters, and the Sabaeans blue in their oozing incense. Let the Tyrians shine with their Phoenician purple, blue and the celebrated land of the Ganges with its oriental gems. The Scipios, those thunderbolts in war, the Fabii and Catos, and he who victoriously ranged the sea and eastern lands, blue the rival of that ruler of the Macedonians, who lay, headless, on the Pelusian shore as the crime of his ingrate son-in-law — let Rome, the mistress of lands and sea, fertile in her sons, boast of these and others.
spacer But you who lay in obscurity for so many years, Scotland, buried in undeserved darkness, come forth into the light. You are nobler than all the climes which Phoebus sees as he travels through heaven’s expansive tract, he who transcends his sister in beauty, just as much as she surpasses the lesser stars. For her wealth and various wonderful attributes are rare goods purveyed by agreeable nature: progeny Scotland bore for herself in olden times famed for their justice and for their valorous arms. Thus Scotsmen may boast “you will fight back under the leadership of a single son whom you bore in these later years. For if this James, now in his early youth, continues to live and in his maturity equals the promise of a noble character he now offers, the very Firth of Forth, winding with its tidal waters, will produce something fairer than a gem of India, and the Teith, rushing along, violent with in its twisting course, its waters made white by hidden rocks although it hastens along swifter than the east wind with a loud roar, crashing as it strikes the inaccessible cliffs, will not decline to exchange its rough rocks for gleaming gems.
spacer “Caledonian oaks will sweat red honey, incense will drip from thistles, and a grape better than Campanian clusters will dangle from the blackberry bush. In the dales alongside the pleasant streams of the Tweed the lamb will pasture, clad of its own volition in the colors of Sidon, blue and with fleece unaltered by any dye it will strive to surpass thread dipped in scarlet and yellow in foreign climes. Mother Ceres will make her home in the hills of Argyll, and swap her golden corn for barren tamarisk, so that Gargara, blessed with its fertile stalks, will not surpass these harvests. Father Lenaeus blue will abandon the vineyards of Maenalus and Tmolus, blue and the high ridges of his sacred mountain, bringing his grapes and his tendrils to your hills, and, instead of the glittering sands of the Pactolus and the gold-bearing Hermus, the wealthy Craufurdland Water will satisfy our greedy inhabitants with its tawny gold. Here there will be a perpetual springtime, and a constant glory of flowers in our painted meadows, with lilies and roses. Neither rain nor chill sleet will harm our delicate livestock, nor sluggish cold our grain.
spacer “You yourself will see that, just as now the Ness stubbornly rejects hard ice during winter chill, blue its example will be followed by the Lochtie, blue the Spey, the Don, the Dour, the Dee, and soon the twin Esk, which waters both the fields of Midlothian and Dalkeith, and which with its moderate current separates us from the warlike English, the large Tay, and great Father Forth, the Carron, the Clyde, and the Solway, and you, Tweed, so long battered by the storms of war, as soon as the baleful Furies provoked grim wrath on this side and on that. blue But now the stars promise you continual peace, and establish a common kingdom for the Briton.”


Angus by cruell death lies here,
The good mans hope, the wickeds feare;
The praise and sorrow of the most
Religious, who as having lost
A father, mourn; worst men are knownespacer5
To faine a woe if they have none:
Envie, accustomed to wrong
His guiltlesse life, imployes her tongue,
Now a loud Trumpet of his fame,
And weeps, if not for grief, for shame, spacer10
Enforc’t to give her selfe the lie:
O! Power of Truth, O! victory,
By which more honour is obtain’d,
Then is in greatest triumphs gain’d.

18. THE SAME blue

Black slander erst her ends to gaine,
Employ’d her Art to wound my name.
Low whispers were her secret traine,
Her open force lies void of shame.

O! that they had lesse credit found, spacer5
As from the thought my heart was free;
Lepidus nor Cethegus own’d blue
Such mischiefs as were charg’d on me,

Who love of vengeance set on fire,
Or blinde ambition overswaid, spacer10
Or hope of riches or desire
Of pleasure, t’ every vice betrayed,

As if my soul such plots had knowne
As would a publicke ruine bring
By justling from his sacred Throne spacer15
My Countreyes father, and my King.

And so to forraigne scorne expose
The Kingdomes glory, shield and hope;
The peoples joy and dayly vowes,
The scourge and terrour of the Pope. spacer20

Thus wicked tongues with cunning Art
Weave nets, the innocent to catch,
And to the jealous eare impart
Fain’d treasons, which their fancies hatch. [“fanciesatch” book]

So base a villanie to act spacer25
Was it, for such a hand as mine,
Or could my breast contrive the fact,
Or conscious be of the black sinne.

But I appeale my God to thee,
Who know’st my heart, and to those friends spacer30
Who were most intimate with me,
How much I loath’d unworthy ends.

The constant tenour of my life,
Was calme obedience to the will
Of rightfull power: detesting strife spacer35
I shunn’d (more then resisted) ill.

Though my descent from Kings I drew,
And in my Gransiers well might see
A Princely power, none every knew
A bragging vanitie in me. spacer40

No emptie titles fill’d my minde
With hatefull pride; nor stately tops
Of Towr’s, large fields, nor troups of kinde
And humble followers, swell’d my hopes.

An equall vertue led my way, spacer45
A spotlesse truth adorn’d my heart,
Let wicked falsehood boast and say;
“Loe what I compast by my Art!”

By me sincere strict Justice dwelt,
From guiltlesse bloud my hand was free, spacer50
No wrong my harmlesse neighbour felt,
Onely theeves punisht were by mee.


James V banished the Earl of Angus and George, brothers of Alison. Their sister Janet Douglas, Countess of Glamis, was burned alive in 1538, having committed no crime, but out of hatred for her brothers whom the king had sent into exile. See Buchanan, Book XIV.

spacerI was second to none in breeding, beauty, and piety. Do you want to know how great I was in the power of my virtue? The royal power which gave my brothers over to exile, and my sister to death, respected my virtue. He who kept her son pent up in prison excused me: is that how he deals with a guilty person? Whatever things were inflicted on the rest, his anger was not exercised against me. These are the noble trophies of my virtue.


spacerUnless my posthumous fame has given me a vain reputation with its epithets, it is a rare woman, or none at all, who could compete with my praise, and neither this age nor olden times have produced my equal: I was chaste, modest, pious and truthful, upright, energetic, and generous of mind and of hand: to put it in a single word, I was a good woman. I was dear to my kinsmen, dear to yours, and dearest of all to you, my dear husband, and dear to both the poor and the rich. I strove to amass these treasures, and by my endowments to store up large dowries for my children. blue Behold me, you race of women, and make your comparison. No worthier image will ever appear in your mirror.


spacerHad I not been born a woman, I would have very much deserved to have been born a man, this fate would have suited my nature. I even deserved to have been born a prince, and thus to have been of service to the world and a great glory to my family. Fortune begrudged this. Or rather, it did not begrudge, and it allowed me to be a prince and a man, albeit weaker in my sex, or at least to vie with men in prudence and majesty of appearance, and to vie with princes in possessing an impartial mind. And yet my sense of shame, my uprightness, and the modesty of my rosy countenance were a sign that I belonged to the weaker sex. In this regard, more than had I been a prince or a man, I was a woman worthy of comparison with princes.


spacerLet the fact that you imitate your mother’s character, countenance, and praise, Janet, be the epitome of your praiseworthiness in my eyes. You happily imitated the models you set for yourself, walking in those footsteps. Oh, you deserved to live more days! It is hard to surmount your destiny. What is permitted is that your surviving reputation proclaims you to have been even-tempered, and honors you in its memory.


spacerLove, piety, probity, constancy, and every virtue joined you together in one bed during a single hour. A single hour conveyed you to heaven and one grave. Harsh hour, you have gained your wish. Did the common folk rightly curse magical charms? Or did God Himself join you in heaven, as previously He had on earth?


spacerWhile feigned prudence’s preening is widespread, and the world imagines that wisdom consist of devising cheats by hidden guile, piety and shame are mocked at and have hidden themselves, together with hoary good faith and upright simplicity and the sacred bonds of unsullied friendship, and, beneath the stars, which are indignant at this world, they were preparing to make their escape. Your piety checked their plans, since neither were they willing to abandon you, nor you to go on living without them. Thus, that they might not forever inhabit abominable lands, nothing but a Hell, and not possess heaven’s high places, they decided that you must be taken along with them and brought to heaven’s high places. How proud the earth was to have you as a guest, and how pleased the greater stars are to have you as a citizen! If any son of virtue remains, if any foe of deceit still remains hidden in this world, he groans over your loss. But you should not rejoice, impiety. His ashes and hostile bones will wage ware against you, dire impiety, and even now he is preparing renewed weapons with which he may plant his foot on your conquered neck, in the form of a son worthy of his father.


spacer“One of your wives dwells in heaven, the other on this earth. Both are dear to you, both are worthy of having you as their husband: it is not permitted us to determine which is the more so. If you consider the one, you aspire to heaven alone, but if you consider the other, now you like the earth. Which more so? Heaven? Thus, you savage, you would be abandoning your earthly wife. Or the earth? You are an ingrate, since the other is preparing heaven for you. Are you savage? Are you an ingrate? You must shun both epithets: how foreign both accusations are to your character! You are not savage? So you must remain. Not an ingrate? You must go. The one summons you while still alive, the other after having been deprived of light. Piety urges this, but it also urges that. You might wish to do both, but you can only do one.” While he was pondering these things, a fiery power descended from heaven above, and forcibly snatched him up to his Father in his ancestral home on high. “Alas, why trouble my joys with your lamentation? Do I choose to do this to you?” “Oh you who are alone dearer to me than my eyes, you alone delayed me on this earth when I was already wearied of the world, infamous for its crimes, and tired of its vanities. Now this is still true.” “But this was God’s destiny and His holy will. And yet I shall not wholly abandon you. You have a large part of me as pledge. Here you may pour forth your sacred love, I would prefer this care, these lamentations, and indeed these tears to a Mausoleum. Thus I shall be with you, thus at no time will you be without me.”


spacerYou great soul, you noble scion of celestial heaven, you whom you seventy-second bitter harvest has now wrested away from this hated earth, has this worldly earth clung and delayed your indignant self for all these years, holding you in its chains? Has the lofty home of Olympus scorned you, although you yearned for heaven? See how the stars are being kind to your prayers. Carefree, look down on the despised earth, and look upwards at the fiery temples of the convex heaven. Inhabit the longed-for home of God, dwell in His happy realms, blessed, mixed with the heavenly choirs. Let me be allowed to say this (and I am not just indulging my love) with Momus blue as my judge, if Momus wishes the truth to be spoken: since the stars have not been sought by another man with so many prayers, no man comes to the stars more welcome.


spacerWhere the Seine speeds its calm waters, the Rhine its currents, the Thames, and the rapid Tay, through the lands of the Celts, the fierce Swedes, the Dutch and the British, across the sea, across mountains, across straits, across rivers, wicked death, swifter than the east wind, brandishing its aegis and its fearful torches, practises all its arts and takes up all its arms: disease when it is fierce, pestilence and poisons when it is malign. It roars and strikes, it prowls about, creating heaps of dead far and wide, dealing out dire deaths with a lavish hand. Hence it lays low Junius, Blake, and Perkins, who had great names for being rare lights of their age. Together with them piety, heaven’s fiery passion, persuasion itself, and honor, the pinnacle of wisdom, may fall. And now the sanctuaries and the steeples of the lofty Church are reeling, and, with some some of its pillars broken, there is no column that does not groan. Horrible death, bringing its mixture of sorrow and grief, threatens us all, and falls upon us with its drawn sword. Oh lament, fear, and feel horror at the darkness and the coldness, at exile and downfall, you little flock. Why not? But you should lament, fear, or shudder at nothing, you great flock, for whom there never exists any darkness, death, or exile, For you, death itself, and every kind of evil which militates against you, will turn even these things into sources of praise for themselves. For you, there is no evil which annihilates every good thing, there is no evil that will not turn even these things to the better for yourselves.


spacerOur very piety concerning death, and our feeling of ardor for heaven would die, if it were possible, and fall together with Black. But if we have piety concerning death and a feeling of ardor for heaven, why should we weep? No savage death is overcoming Black. If he falls, so do they, but if they endure, so does he. Piety stands or falls together with its Black. He who has lived a happy life with piety as his guide, dies happily under its guidance. What does it matter whether he lives or dies, as long as he is blessed? Hold your silence, Momus. blue He lived and dies as a credit to himself, but he lived and dies as a discredit to you.


spacerAlmighty Father, You Who make the lofty heaven’s stars to turn, and press down the great weight of the lands and the sea, make Yourself favorable to my wishes, and as the Bringer of salvation, hear the prayers I humbly pour forth from my quaking heart. I do not ask for wealth, soft leisure, nor that the time of my life be long. Nor do I pray that my reputation be vainly swollen by titles, but rather I pray that You make me Your servant. Thus riches and honor will befall me in abundance, and my life will be long, no matter what the number of my days. Thus my reputation will be enhanced by true titles, if I become Your servant and be said to be Yours. You come to me as my riches, my hope, my true pleasure, my sure salvation, and my life. You are my glory, God, a source of envy to scepter-bearing rulers, You are my title, my high honor. Oh, they are most fortunate and most blessed, protecting Father, who You make Your servants!

30. PIOUS ARMS blue

spacerIt is cruel to the mind and eyes to see a man drinking blood with his infamous mouth and living in the manner of a raging beast. Let the brute who loves you keep on loving you forever, wicked Mars, just as much as I loathe you and your deeds. But this is the case when it is impermissible to stain one’s hands and sword with the blood of his fellow citizens with impunity, to put to death a man you do not acknowledge to be a man, a fellow-citizen you do not acknowledge to be a fellow citizen, and spatter your hands with kindred gore. And so, God, I follow You wherever You call me, even into savage battles, and with You as my captain I shall be absolved guilt. This is enough. And You will arrange the rest according to Your will, as long as both the pious man and impiety learn that God does exist.


spacerSee how I displease myself. I am pleased with myself on this score, that perhaps I lack pride, but for me this becomes an opportunity for pride. What reasons will you not find, puffed-up arrogance, if you feel proud over your lack of pride?


The disease remits in the morning and during the day, but afflicts me at night.

spacerSavage night redoubles my terror and threatens death. At daylight You, God, my light, come to my aid. Your power is unshaken, even in the darkness of Erebus. Oh, great God, assert Your powers here too. And You will do so, You will return me safe and sound to the pious, to my nation, and to Yourself, whether on earth or (better yet) in heaven.


spacerWill you, the snake of my sins and of those of my forefathers, wage sad wars against my sad self with your great weight, and bring God into the fray, and avenging pains, while thundering both disease and death? In vain. This is not the face of our Father, such as He has when He looks on Zion with a peaceful countenance. Abandon your threats, those words of government which are nothing but vanities, now that the scepter of your realm has been taken away from you. Under His guidance, although against the will of sin, disease, every manner of pain, death, and yourself, I shall be borne aloft to the stars.


spacerYou may bark, envy, and you may burst. My heart and my hand are joined, both on earth and in heaven.


spacerI am not surprised that the sea and the Jordan stood still in their glassy beds: they were obeying their Master. I am not surprised that the sun stood still and went backwards in its course: it too was obeying its Master. I am surprised that Man finds these things surprising and can scarce believe them, and that he does not also obey his Master.


spacerI say few things which are not inspired by gratitude, or which lack weight. Yet I am no Cato, and am not thought to be such.


spacerIs Phoebus absent? And is Pallas not here, or Mars, notable for his service, or the sweet suasion of my tongue? If the court, too prone to giving applause, is extolling me undeservedly: it scarcely honors me, and I am a dishonor to it.

38. JANUARY 1 blue

spacerIt was not happenstance (although it was also happenstance) that I gave no pledges of a grateful mind on Janus’ Calends. For, if I must speak the truth, that happenstance was a sign of my disposition. I am pleased by unvarnished simplicity, I have a transparent heart. Janus deceives men with his cheats, arts, and wiles.

39. ON THE SAME blue

spacerWhat do I have to do with Janus? He is a monster, and I loathe monsters. He is two-faced, I have a straightforward face and mind.


spacerYou give, but so that you can receive. This is not giving. Or, if is, Janus, you can likewise say that receiving is giving. Thus one and the same man can be generous and greedy, rich and poor. For he who gives in this manner gets more, hopes for more, possesses more.

41. ON THE SAME blue

spacerOh you whose front of the head is the back of your head, you who limp along and at the same time open the, a fine doorkeeper and god, Janus, if you don’t mind thus juggling the names of things in sport and twisting words in accordance with your whim, oh, be on your guard and quickly flee to the Tarpeian palaces, and give or sell your word to your Rome, or some irate fellow will smash both your newly-scrubbed faces, and say this was done after your examples.


spacerShould I not give you myself, if I possess any strength and industry, if my body or mind can be of any use? Would I not be giving myself to my nation and the father of my nation in giving myself to you, to whom my nation and the very father of my nation have given themselves? The king admits he has never been placed in a better position, so could I place myself in any better? These things have been put to the test: the nature of your good faith and prudence, and the great streams of your wit. And it is your doing that I am willing and able to give proof to yourself, or likewise to my nation and the father of my nation, of my intelligence, good faith, and industry, if such there be, or the usefulness of my body or wit, if there be any.

43. A WISH

spacerThe man to whom the laws, the power of taking counsel on public affairs, the burden of the king, the realm, and our religion all entrust themselves, men should acknowledge that this century possess you alone for a man capable of undertaking so great a burden, and future centuries should acknowledge that you were the only man equal to it.


spacerIf a husband’s chief and particular praise is to have pleased his wife, and if a wife’s chief praise is to pleased his wife, no better husband has entered into the holy compact of chaste marriage, nor with a better wife. Am I wrong, or will this love endure harmoniously until after times, after their deaths, and match their ancestral tombs in its honor, so that you will attain to the same praise in your marriage (and in your marriage-bed?), you son and daughter-in-law, the one of you being the imitator of his father, the other of her mother-in-law.

45. TO A NEW BRIDE blue

spacerMaiden, why be fearful because Venus now sends you, untaught and having experienced no marriage, into your first battle? These are not battles that promise certain death. Set aside this base fear, Isabel, for your victory is not in doubt. He is not subjecting you to his yoke, he is submitting his neck to yours.


spacerAs you rode through the city with your retinue, Jean, a Gaetulan, blue come from western climes, saw the glory of your lofty face, the glowing honor of your brow, your hands, which could well be well suited for wielding a scepter, your sweet eyes, which mimic the fires of heaven (eyes worthy to be adored by Phoebus or Jove), and likewise your physical endowments, which Apelles blue might limn on an artful painting, and as your countenance attracted all eyes, he imagined that you were some goddess come down from heaven. When he learned of your name and your lineage, he sighed, and said, “This land bears such sweet beasts. Let our Africa someday breed such beasts, as many as it wants, let it breed tigers and wild monsters.”


spacerYou are blessed in your breeding, your nature, your fortune, your beauty, y0ur marriage, and the two children, worthy of their great parents, together with the hopes and prayers of many men, their dutifulness, their conversations, and their writings, make you almost a goddess. And you truly will be, if you rightly appreciate these things, yourself, and He Who gives and takes away such great gifts, God.


spacerIn wit equal to Pallas, in face to golden Venus, in majesty to Juno, but whoever he is to whom you subject all those divinities you scarcely make equal to Mars, to Phoebus, to Jove. Hence this is the greatest cause of envying you, that that god envies no man for having a lot equal to his own.


spacerThat the right bountiful hand of your royal friend enhances you with wealth and heaps you with good things, that pleasant love is so friendly in granting you your wishes, that a golden Juno blesses the marriage-bed for which you had hoped, you have gained things which were the hope and prayers of great lords, whose hope and prayers were more powerful than yours. If this was an achievement of your virtue, let your virtue grow along with your years, until it makes your name equal to that of your ancient forebears. Or if it is fortune’s doings, may your fortune hold to this course and remove its changeable ways from you. These points of your reputation, scarce rashly credited to your affairs, promise this and encourage hope. Or am I to imagine that they possess a lying omen?


spacerYou must be patient in the face of Fortune’s mockery, for everything is not accustomed to go as any man would wish.


spacerYou too, whom now she sweetly favors, have no doubt that she is fickle, and lower that arrogant eyebrow.


spacerIf you sing songs, they are songs worthy of Apollo. Or, if you prefer to write without meters, honeyed words flow, which neither Mercury could correct, or gnawing envy could criticize. You adroitly join these two gods into one, and by yourself can perform whatever the both of them can do. As a reasonably fair judge, should I not prefer you to either of them, so that you are my Phoebus and my Mercury? As a reasonably fair judge, should I not prefer you to both of them, so that in my judgment you are greater than Phoebus and Mercury?


spacerSmiling nature gave you both good wit, and the ability to surpass the gods in beauty, and elegance, and allowed the sweet Graces to join the sweet Pierian Muses in making a home on your rosy lips. Oh happy you for having such a sister! And happy you for being a sister to such a brother! If she gives you worthy marriages, with Juno being friendly, and Cytherea blue makes your marriages fruitful, I should believe that those born of such marriages could be be the world’s new Muses and Graces.


spacerYou devotee of the Muses, lover of true piety, protection, harbor, sweet source of support, what can I pray for you worthy of yourself and your great piety? What wishes could match your merits? For wealth, the honors admired by the common folk, and leisure are always disdained by great men. blue Although their friendly Fortune might bestow these things with a bountiful hand, they are beneath your notice. Let other fools thirst after them, let them be possessed by them rather than possessing them, you will not be possessed by their possession. With better care may you have concern for the Pierian Camenae, and the Pierian goddesses, and may you likewise be a concern for them, and may what remains for you continue to remain, the piety that is welcome to you and your love of that piety. Though it be banished from all climes, when it is a refugee may you be its protection, harbor, and sweet source of support. And let Him Who supports the earth and the heaven with His godhead, Who governs the vast currents of the boundless sea, to the degree that divine power is greater than human, be your greater protection, harbor, and sweet source of support.


spacerSince your concern is religion and the Camaenae, nothing comes before the Muses and religion. What man to whom the Muses and religion are dear should not adore and revere you with patriotic love? Certainly, if I were not to adore and embrace you with patriotic love, as long as the Muses and religion are dear to you, then I should have to confess I was unworthy of the sacred Camaenae, and unworthy to enjoy sincere religion. Thus let me always be allowed to adore the holy Camaenae, thus let me be permitted to enjoy true religion, and let savage death put an end to my hastening years, rather than my not enjoying sincere religion.


spacerDaughter, sister and consort of kings, soon the greatest mother of the greatest kings, and the bountiful mother of your realm, great with so many titles — this is a broad field for biting envy, and yet you are nobody’s object of envy. This, I think, will be an ample subject for your reputation. It will consecrate you as equal to heaven and the stars of the sky.


spacerI have no quarrel with a generous man. But you might rather call him stinginess itself, since he is so tenacious.


spacerWhy criticize my poems so, my snooty friend? Even if you could be a Naso, you could not be a Maro. blue


spacerNow the third summer is upon us with the heats of the dogstar, now that the third winter has ceased its snows, after which date, although sentence was passed against me, the Hydra of dissention, as if reborn after death, continues to live. With the courage of a Hercules, you must destroy this hell-born monster, and at length put an end to the protracted tediums of this hateful delay. My mind is set on this, no matter how the Hydra revived. It cannot live without your gaining a blot, it cannot die without your gaining praise.


spacerI am surprised that, being a King, you say and do things that are less than just, for kings should say and do just things. I am not surprised that, being a King, you say and do things that are less than just. For you are only a King by name, by profession you are a lawyer.

61. TO KING JAMES blue

spacerFortune, Phoebus and Pallas acknowledge you as their son and they vie in heaping you with their gifts. What is deemed unworthy by myself, and by Phoebus and Pallas? That which Fortune brings with her wheel, setting it in motion with her savage hand. As soon as you make a sign, Pallas will not be unfriendly, Apollo will be at your service, and Fortune will set aside her threats and be reasonable enough. Then I will not be embarrassed to serve Phoebus or Pallas, and worship them with equal dutifulness. But even if Fortune rushes to greet you with ready treasuries, she is a harlot, and will not make me her servant.

62. TO N. blue

spacerWhether a slow time in your business grants you rest from your cares, and welcome leisure for your pious concerns, or when God’s minister energetically thunders from his lofty pulpit, waging war with Hell and Hell’s commander, and reveals mysteries kept hidden by grudging centuries, citing passages appropriate for his words, I have seen you reading Tacitus, scanning, taking notes, and tracing his individual words with your finger. While he is framing his prayers, and the congregation joins him in addressing their united prayers to heaven, I have constantly been amazed at your being transported from here, with your hands and eyes directed to your reading, and also your voice, an index to your mind. Can this piety escape the notice of men and of God? Can this remain hidden in a unrewarded place? It is not hidden. Therefore God is now lifting you up with well-deserved honor, and He will raise your elevated person aloft. Continue, great man, along the road you have started. Do not doubt that God and mankind will give you worthy rewards.


spacerThe family of Hume, warlike and possessed of martial hearts, is the strength and protection of your land. But for you, having not even put the doubtful contest of Mars to the test, to turn tale and abandon the standards in shameful flight! Disgraces to yourselves and your forefathers? Is this how your old-time virtue, your ancient honor, your lofty glory has fallen? Could your lack of your concern, your foolish error have done this? We have trusted in ourselves too much! Do men have any courage, if it is not heaven-sent? Oh, have a change of heart, both you armies. If you do not, this arrogance of yours will suffer as downfall, as a vengeful heaven will, perhaps, mete out equal dismay and disgrace to the both of you.


spacerIt was night-time, and, settling my limbs for a peaceful rest, I was giving them over, wearied by their labor, to my customary bed, when the niggling pain of a hollow tooth, first beginning with a slight onslaught, began to trouble me. I ignored it, and strove to give over my eyes to a sleep that was unwilling to come, but was quick to escape my eyes. I felt ashamed by having pain inflicted by such a minute enemy, so I fought to shrug off its growing threats. Scorned, it blazed up all the more, made itself increase, and redoubled its powers. Now it was fierce, and now it was great, it tortured and tormented me and made me toss about, spinning and moving my indignant self around in my bed, as if I were a man about to take up steel and don armor, if either steel or armor could do me any good. Now I wanted to have the thing uprooted and ripped from my bones, either by the hand of a physician or the tongs of a blacksmith., but the hand of a physician and the tongs of a blacksmith, such as could pull it, were far away. I grimaced and turned about in every direction, with my nimble mind making a quick review of the earth and sea. But neither the earth nor the sea, nor the liquid air or fiery sphere, nor the aether brought me aid. What to do? Should I trouble the sublime throne of the great Thunderer and His godhead with my little prayer? But the tooth bid me do so. So a whisper had barely escaped my lips and made a feeble sound when the pain fled and, sharp though it had been, immediately disappeared into thin air. All the agony quit my bones to my astonishment, as I held up my hands to high heaven. Is this what You do? Greatest God? Are You present in trifling matters? Let trifling matters not befall me in Your absence, let alone great ones. In Your absence, let me not love what the earth and the world have to offer.


Wallace was that famous commander who ejected all the English from Scotland in the time of Edward I of England.

spacerNoble unconquered glory of lightning-like Mars, oh you hero, deserving to be thought the equal of the gods of yore! No more greatly has the martial Merse boasted of any son, nor sung with fuller voice of any commander, blue whether you sweep your spear-bearing squadrons into the fray together with yourself, joining men with men, standards with standards, or whether you gleam from a far, fearful with your sword and spear, joining battle with light skirmishing. Your reputation could have compared you to Wallace and to Mars, if it wanted to give you your due for your just deserts.


spacerWhile I grieve and seek to avenge you, slain contrary to law and the pious rules of clean combat, great father, Kelso saw me to be pious and in no wise degenerate, and whoever was responsible for your death atoned for his joys with a well-earned death. Let neither the Humber nor the Tyne boast of your killing: I sought for revenge, and their hostile land paid the price. During your life, your glory stood in my way. Your death gave me an opportunity and a subject for my reputation.


This battle occurred in the year 1515: Buchanan, Book XIII.

spacerThis way, this way, oh comrades, turn about your victorious standards. Here honor and virtue summon you, here your lofty nation calls you. In the name of yourselves, in the name of your good right hands and your recent doughty deeds, in the name of your sacred and constant loyalty to your kings (if any such exists), break through these battle-lines too, dash into the midst of their squadrons Where are you fleeing? See, the enemy’s arms, his hostile standards are here. That I could desert my king as he was rushing into battle? Oh my father, let no shade report that to you. You should have survived me, my son. But you are determined to die in my company. Now I do not begrudge you that, and I scarce regret it.


D’Arces, a noble Frenchman of the Delphiné, commonly known as “De la Bastie,“ by whose advice the Regent beheaded Alexander Hume, the family head. Subsequently David Hume of Wedderburn killed him to avenge Alexander’s murder, and affixed his cut-off head in a conspicuous place atop Castle Hume, October 1, 1517. Afterwards, on March 21, he took down the heads of Alexander and his brother William from the lower gate of Edinburgh, where they had been nailed up See Buchanan, Book XIV.

spacerWhile foreign D’Acres was pressing the yoke of servitude upon us, and our sinking commons and nobility cried out that the glory of our empire was lost, our nation was growing worthless, and our courage and old-time spirits were failing us, I fought great battles with a small band against him, arrogant with his army and spewing wrath and threats. I turned him, I routed him, I conquered him, and by his killing I made him atone for your killing and make expiation to your shade, great Hume. What you owe me, my nation and you house of Hume, is for you to decide, it is not mine to state my wish.


This was the Earl of Angus who fought near Musselburgh on September 10, 1547, the brother of the wife of that David Hume who had killed d’Arces, and the uncle of the George killed while fighting in his division.

spacerWhile proving to you that I was worthy of both of my predecessors, uncle, I joined the harsh battle under your auspices I fell, a great hope in the flower of my first youth, destined to be no inferior to my lofty forebears. My short life prevented this, death forestalled me. But it was being rather reasonable: what does it matter that it came a few days early? Spare your tears, father, and consider the father and the husband. blue He is not unworthy of the both of us, he is not unbecoming to the both of us.


spacerNow you come last after all the rest, most beloved sire, but not, because of your merit, to be placed after anybody by me. Oh honor, oh rarest glory of this late age, whom Piety, old-fashioned Honesty, nourishing Good Faith, unvarnished Simplicity, and Astraea, having abandoned heaven, have deigned to honor on this hateful earth! blue “Learn, sons, and bequeath to your late posterity, thus to be wise, and to wish to live according to my example.”

71. THE SAME blue

spacerLet Swinton blue say how ready my hand is for war when it saw the French turned, gloated over the Scottish horse, and pressed the backs of their enemy squadrons. Now not even safe escape was available, and a man brought back the report that their situation was destroyed, that all their thousands given over to death, and that he himself barely got away on his horse. To prevent this from occurring, I arrived in haste and, confronting the enemy with myself and my spear-bearing squadrons, I rescued them all from death and disgraceful flight. If the civic crown blue was bestowed in olden times, how many well-earned crowns am I owed? Thus the Tweed and England see that I am not otherwise base, and that by this handiwork I have earned the right to die. blue But, my nation, I have given enough life to you. Mars has preferred to spare me, as has nourishing peace, kinder to our nation.


She died in 1590. This epigram was written thirty-sex years afterward.

spacerReceive these fraternal tears I pour out for you as a token of my inexhaustible love. Although you were only one out of all my dear sisters, you were more dear, perhaps always dearer than my life, one whom I could almost call my child or my daughter. To you I could my counsels, which I customarily kept to myself. Even now sighs shake my hoary locks, and my grief returns to your empty name: let it return as a perpetual cause for my sorrow. Oh your death, always to be recalled with my groaning!


spacerOh you who alone are fair in my eyes, my one best wife, the one woman worthy to please my mind and my nature while your probity competed with your handsomeness, and your rare beauty with your probity, from that my love was engendered and born. Next came our marriage-bed, with its pact violated by no quarrels, as we enjoyed harmonious peace, and from that my love has endured. You are schooled to want and dislike the same things as I do, to feel joy and sorrow over the same things and, since your mind is compliant, your hand dutiful, your character mild, your virtue well-aware of heaven, inspired by God’s lofty things, from that my love has redoubled. Now we have a daughter who copies her mother in her face and her manners, a darling to one and all, and from this my love has increased. Let it continue to increase: it will increases forever, and will sit deep in why heart, until you are united with me in heaven.


spacer Zion was my first concern in life, blue just as it is my greatest care in dying: the great Zion, beautiful and preferable to all my daughters, blue once having been more beautiful than them all, the world’s honor and darling. She sat in your blue sight as a venerable queen, wearing the ornaments prescribed by her King and her Bridegroom, venerable even to her enemies. But now she is clad in filth and squalor, mocked, disdained, and unlike you. She is a servant to servants, blue a stranger to your people and unrecognizable to others. I did as much as I could openly to attest to our nation’s fathers and the assembled orders of the realm, blue to the realm’s viceroy, the president of the parliament, blue and to the bishops themselves, how great this injury was, and how it was not to be supported by the consent of good men, so that nothing would be done to the damage of you or of ourselves, and so that not a jot of our ancient liberty would be diminished. Now dying, I join in lamentation with you, blue for whom scarce a man laments, I affirm that my mind stands unchanged, and I call to the aid of the Kirk Him Who wields the reins of heaven and earth, ruling all by His will.
spacer My next care is Scotland and Scoto-Britannia, now my double nation, and the single father of that double nation (oh, may you live forever, and may these ties bind our late descendants!). How I craved to serve for you. blue The Fates prevented, but you knew my mind and can bear witness, Berwick, blue and you, Carlisle, while I strove to bind the wounds of your disrupted peace, and brought help to the realms of the Scotsman and the Englishman (which Britain has now enfolded in its bosom and cherishes, greater than either one). Durham, you are the one survivor on the English side who still enjoys the breath of life and your titles, being distinguished by the excellent miter of York. This lover of piety and peace, affable, and hence dear to me, a good colleague, is a faithful witness who knows well enough all the things I endured, and what I performed.
spacer Nothing else induced me to undertake the work of managing your accounts, great king, than to be of service to you, blue and if I chanced to display any industry, that was exertion done entirely for your advantages, advantages which my nature, my better reasoning, and divine wisdom which transcends wisdom impelled me to prefer to my own affairs. And (even if the other places hold their silence and begrudge me, taking everything in bad part) at least you will bear witness, the Merse, blue how greatly I valued the public weal. Nor, however, were my private affairs neglected: I would have been no more behindhand in amply increasing my patrimony of an ample fortune, bequeathed me by my great forebears, had not the court (never fair to good men), indignant at my fidelity, placed me in an unjust position, as if I were a monster of a treasurer. Therefore I suffer for my hope and my trust in my nation, and for my love for the common father of our nation, and I groan over my proper decisions. Being prudent, pious, and innocent, I endure the penalties of a guilty man. I make good public losses with my private money, and I myself sell my estates, making restitution for something in which I am not deemed to have sinned. But I should not complain. Thus (as the spilt blood of my forebears has attested) shines forth my love for my nation, God, the king, and virtue. I have lived to whit inferior to my forefathers, insofar as nourishing peace has allowed, blueand I sink down in death. I bequeath these memorials to you, my son, you dearest child of my dear wife and the one hope of our house.
spacer Dare to guide your mind towards true virtues, and particularly towards piety itself, and dare to think that the earth and earthly things are trash, as you mount to high Olympus, you who are destined to see the heaven’s choirs and the greatest of things, while you enjoy eternal repose with me in our eternal home.


spacerChaste in body, pious in mind, and dutiful to my husband, handsome and fertile. This is a great glory, my grandfather-in-law. So stands our fortune that our house is inviolate, nor let it be said that I have proven unworthy among all its many good mistresses. May my beauty remain, but I pray that my successor not fail to be my match, whether she be your wife, my husband, or yours, my son.


spacerShould I not praise you as you deserve, my niece, you fair daughter of the houses of Gleneagles and Wedderburn, a Haldane and a Hume, and very worthy of your grandfather’s great house of Johnstone (families which no age can sufficiently praise), for the uprightness of your morals, the honesty of your mind, your faithfulness and true piety? Your goodness (most dear to everybody) was praised, and your chaste love found its delight in your beloved husband. The report of wealthy and poor alike hymned you, they praised you and your deeds, and popular talk (a truthful witness to one’s actions) was agreeable to your deeds. Your servants, your husband, and your husband’s clients who lived all around you, whom he fed and clothed, praised you. Look around yourself and see them, shining throughout your house and halls in those garments — why hesitate? — and behold the great signs of their approval: how this woman, prudent and wise, energetic, entirely frugal, governed her household, and how this mother carefully instructed her children and set them wholesome examples, displaying all the praiseworthy points for which any woman gains a name.
spacer She was such as Holy Scripture has depicted, I mean that saying of great Solomon, who preferred a woman in whom her husband confided to lofty gold, to gold and jewels, blue and he praised her alone on her deathbed, extolling her alone above all others, redoubling her praises and dolefully sighing from deep within his breast. He averred that he and his children were all bereft, that he had been deprived of the central part of himself, that faithful supplier of advice and she who exhorted him to every virtue and to whatever was worthy of perpetual praise. To whom could he compare you? To Dorcas herself? blue Or to the others whom womanly fame has ever consecrated? Querulously doubting what words were sufficiently worthy of you and your deeds, and failing to satisfy himself, when he said much he would still have said more, seeking how he might extol you to high heaven above women both living and dead. Frantic, he would mourn that a mild and dutiful woman (this is not a wife’s only point of praise, yet it is the greatest) had been taken away from him by death. And yet he rejoiced that once he had lived united with you, and that now too he lived in union with you because of the children you had produced in common. He regarded this as his single consolation, because you had abandoned these mortal things and sought to dwell in everlasting peace in the better realms of heaven.
spacer Then too, your husband’s house was supported by you. It was reeling and tottering, and bound to suffer its downfall, had you not intervened. The Fates granted this, but a large part of the praise belongs to you that the Fates thus granted it and indulged you with this glory. And so, as a daughter so worthy of your forebears, happily come forward and be inserted into the roster of your ancestors. And you, her husband, be joined to her (if this in any way pleases you and is dear to your heart, and if laudations contain any praises hoped for the living or for those taken up to heaven). And if there is any power that thrives in my verse, your honor, praises and name will always endure.


spacerWhile this year is not yet passed, dear nephew, it is right for me to mourn you, conjoined with your sister, and to attest my disposition and my affection, and my twofold sorrow for your double death. You are not unworthy of my praise, I admit, you whom all friends and strangers alike cry out for, praise, and mourn. This man loudly proclaims you to have been pious, that one calls you decent and marvels that, in this age of the world and in the thriving flower of your youth you were chaste and lived a celibate life for twelve years from the time that your dear wife shut her failing eyes and by dying broke off your holy love. Another one calls you a frugal man, a lover of your loving brother, and no less of your sisters, and a lover of your friends, generous with your gift-giving hand, truthful even in this snarling age of the world, and a devotee of the just, tenacious in clinging to the right and keeping your word over Fraud’s objection. Others may say these things. But let it be allowed for me to rejoice that I had a presentiment of these things when first you were born, and that it was the prayer of your mother, your father, and both your grandmothers and grandfathers, that their forthcoming son and grandson would be a man of outstanding honor. Now I have the same hope: that your son will show himself to be like you, and come to be the heir of his father’s virtues.


* Duns was the birthplace of John Duns Scotus, “Dr. Subtilis.” Near to this town lives the family, most ancient but not wealthy, from which the subtle Scotus took his origin. All the members of this family have this surname, such as William Duns, Robert Duns, Peter Duns &c.

spacerAfter death had threatened extremities against myself and my daughter, and saw us fearlessly awaiting its final blow, it gave a bitter laugh and, setting aside its sword, said, “All this done against you is in vain, you will pay me greater forfeits. I know how the both of you can die, although still alive.” And it brutally approached you, my dearest wife, while we were not on our guard and fearrf nothing of the kind, at once laying her low with unexpected, unspeakable pain, and entirely flooding her senses with cares and keen sorrows. Now neither earth, nor air, nor daylight please me in your absence. Oh, my sole pleasure! Oh, my soul! Oh, everything that can be pleasant for a man! I was not even able to say a final farewell. Did you abandon me? Have our hopes, your prayers and mine come to this? Were we not even permitted to see either our son’s wedding or his pious reward of a pious woman, a generous gift of a generous God, which we both had hoped and prayed for? blue Now, if our good Father indulges me with anything good (in Whom alone I entrust my hope and my mind, committing myself wholly to His will), at length taking pity on me and sending it from high heaven, whatever it is it will come to me less sweet because you will not enjoy it with me and rejoice when you see God’s longed-for honor, sought with your prayers and your tears, the single purpose of living with an honest heart.
spacer Or are illusions distracting me, and do evils remain to fall on my head yet worse than those with which my enemy first snatched you away, while he gratuitously assaults me and mocks my empty hope, so often founded upon Jehovah? Nothing could be worse for a pious mind. Most excellent Father, grant me whatever You desire. Just be my great Witness that I have no other intention, no other wishes, than to trust in You alone, wholly depending on You, never seeking or caring for anything else. Nor can I feel sorrow, as long as Your glory shines throughout all the lands. Take away my other half. Out of Your goodness, You previously gave her to me. I remember her and shall always take pleasure in the memory, and I shall offer up perpetual thanks from an unfeigned heart for this gift, and for its enjoyment for all those years. Take away the children I had with such a consort (she used to call them, in whom she rejoiced, Your gifts, and she triumphantly turned her eyes towards You, and found her repose in delighting in Your great image). Do you want to take these acres of earth, as few as they may be, which advertise You and heaven above? blue They are only sweet to me because they bear Your name. Do You want to take away my goods? My property? My reputation as a learned and good man? And the rewards for having truly pursued virtue, now turned against me? Do You wish to flood my mind with reproaches? My face with shameful blushing? Do you want to make me a shattered vase, blue for which no human wisdom or skilled industry can find a use? And do you wish to make me a laughing-stock for the mocking world, someone to be scorned by my servants and others both friend and foe? Behold, I come, prick me, lay me low, trample me underfoot, strike me in the back, the breast, and the head. Draw Your sword, lift it up and plunge it in my throat (just take away this wretched felon’s sins at the same time). I shall nevertheless place my trust in You and humbly worship You, offering thanks for Your mercy. Satisfied of mind, I shall enjoy the breath of life I would otherwise detest, as long as it is You Who furnish me with life, and my exultant heart will rejoice with happy emotion. Therefore, death, you are cheated: living, we do not die. Rather, in death she lives, and she will live forever in my grateful heart, as long as I survive and am granted the use of this life and this light.

79. THE SAME blue

spacerWill I not be heedful and embrace you with equal affection? Will I not be grateful and embrace you with equal honor, and celebrate your praises in a well-earned song? Barbara, a name always sweet to me, always destined to be sweet in the future, whom our lengthy love has long joined in the sacred compact of the marriage-bed, a love delayed for fourteen years, which then endured for thirty-six by right of marriage, most sweet during all that time (this was God’s goodness, and my mind will never render me forgetful of my gratitude), better than any such long a period has ever charmed a man. For in it her piety towards God, towards her father (being sure to obey his every commandment), both her husbands, both the living and the dead, and the two daughters she had by the former, and the three sons and single daughter she had by the latter. Or was it her greatest praise (and this very rarely befalls a mortal) that as a step-daughter she pleased her step-mother? That she equally pleased both her husbands? That, being beloved and loving in return, she remained at home seven years as a pure virgin? That (being a meek girl) out of her love for her father she abandoned her own, and, after she had been freed from her bond to her husband, she nevertheless sadly subjected herself once more to her father’s commandments for four years, having no share of a marriage. Yet she did not yield to her chosen love until it had become her father’s choice, and he propelled her forward, rebuking her as though she had been slow and delaying. Then, praying for their prosperity, he himself rejoiced as he gave her into the embrace of her summoned bridegroom, and, pitying her, dried her tear-stained cheeks and wiped her eyes. Tell me, you female sex, and be frank about it, if you have ever done the like as lovers. And, evil malice, give deserved praise, and when you attack this entire sex you must make an exception for those whose hearts Fate has made out of better clay, and virtue has marked with distinguished honor.


spacerDo you flee me, my darling, my sweet love, my very delightful wife, oh my soul and the greatest reason for my living? It was because of you that living was once sweet for me, and because of me that living was sweet for you. Who will join me in giving thanks to Jehovah for his honors, and in offering up prayers and entreaties to my God? Who now will rejoice in my joys, or feel pain over my sorrows? Who will join me in feeling that those things are her own? Now my joys are not joyful, and whatever said befalls me is less sad in your absence.

81. ON THE SAME blue

spacerI had been blessed for my pious mother, and recently I was blessed for my wife, since the same piety and the same uprightness marked her. Once the one was liked by all, and so was the other. The one was good to all men, and so was the other. The one was welcome to her husband and kind to the poor, and so was the other, who was generous of mind and of hand, chaste, modest, pious and truthful, upright, energetic, and, to put in a single word, a good woman. She presided over these treasurers, these great realms of her qualities, storing them up for her daughter. So for this reason, you house of Elphinstone, rejoice, rejoice you sons and husbands: see what honor arises from this! And I call on you to witness, unfair malice, and on you, Caledonia to bear witness — has any single house produced such a pair?


spacerSince in your face you were far the fairest, why is there no mention of your beauty among your praises? It is because your soul outshone your excellent body and cast it in the shadows, as Phoebus does to the stars with his rays.


From these verses (dear reader) it is evident that the author’s style, which in his youth was comparable to that of Vergil or Ovid, had almost degenerated into that of Horace as his old age progressed. For he wrote these elegiac verses in the 72nd year of his life.

spacerThus, now that you have passed away, I am permitted to invoke you as a goddess. I shall place you among the goddesses, my darling, and dedicate temples. I shall set up altars, consecrating them, and earnestly fall before them, pouring forth prayers and entreaties. I shall off up incense, if incense and their braziers are to your liking. And finally I shall pay you whatever honors either sincere piety or vain superstition ever amassed for the gods.
spacerOr, if it is permitted me to mourn for those who dwell in heaven, I shall fill this world with my tears, its air with my sobs, split rocks with my lamentation, for it pleases me to indulge my wild sorrow. My frantic grief and sick mind have urged me to let my hand range anywhere at all, plunging it deep within a sacrificial beast’s guts or lifting it up to strike its neck, doing whatever a wretched man’s rash hand might dare to do. But neither incense, altars, or temples would be to your liking, nor would your piety permit divine honors, since you were accustomed to join me in worshipping One God. Nor do I wish to mourn for those who dwell in heaven, who drink joys in full streams from the fountain of its summit. Satisfied, in their happiness they either see none of our sufferings, or pity them for their pointlessness.
spacer If you ever knew how sweet I thought you while the Fates permitted, you know it now, as it is likewise now sweet to remember you. It is not more bitter to be wrenched from you, because my half-living body continues to breathe and enjoy the air without itself, blue than it is a welcome thing if I have lived and loved together with you, and received such great pledges of your love. blue Now my excellent love, that constant ruler of my life and death, likewise compels me to go where it commands. God, Who once joined us, now separates us, good in either case and the object of my praise of song in everything that He does, just as He was once the subject of your song of praise in all He would do. Thus we lived, and thus I live on as a second part of yourself. Thus you are dead, and thus, when God’s great commandments will it, I too shall die.
spacerMeanwhile farewell forever, sweetest consort, farewell forever, blessed woman, and kindly receive this final memorial (if it has any meaning for the dead) of my old love.



ARBARA Johnstone, daughter of James Baron of Elphingston, fell deeply in love with David Hume, brother of George Baron of Wedderburn, her kinsman. Although Andrew Melvin, James Lawson, a pastor of Edinburgh, and other pious and learned men spoke on his behalf, her father could not be induced to permit their union in marriage. Since she was determined to do nothing contrary to her father’s will, she remained in his house for more or less seven years, in a constant state of love although otherwise a most dutiful maiden. Then at length, having tried all expedients in vain, since she saw her father was obstinately firm in his determination, and that there was no hope that he could be persuaded to defer to her urgings, she married John Haldane Baron of Gleneagles, who had previously had to wife Isobel Hume, the sister of this same David She had been a close childhood friend of Barbara, and often praised her to her husband while still alive. He was aware and privy to all these facts, and dealt with David so that he might marry Barbara with his good leave. So she, as his bride, conducted herself in such a way, and so delighted her step-children, his children, that his wife (albeit a woman of most rare probity and prudence) was not any dearer to them than herself. After his death a year and a half later, having given him one daughter and pregnant with a second, as soon as she had given birth and was able to withstand the effort of travel, she betook herself to her father once more. And so their old love was renewed, but since her father made himself no less difficult, she remained with him as a widow for four more years and the same number of months. Then at last, after her father had been persuaded and was now willing, and in fact urging the marriage, she married David. She lived with him for thirty-six years, in the sweetest love, and gave him six sons, four of whom survived to manhood, one died at the age of four months, and one was stillborn, together with a single daughter. Now she died in the year 1629, on the 24th day of June, at the age of seventy. I think she was the gentlest woman the world has ever produced. About her there exists this very well-deserved epitaph:

Daughter, step-daughter, maiden, wife, step-mother, widow, a wife again, a mother, a mother-in-law, a sister, a mistress of a household, a Christian woman, the best of them all, the gentlest, mildest, most obedient, dearest to her father, her stepmother, her husbands, her step-children, her children, her grand-children, her servants, her brothers, to the wealthy and the poor, pious towards one and all, the most chaste, the most truthful, the most prudent. Concerning whom I do not regret concluding once more, “this age has not produced no equal, and olden times have scarcely seen your equal.” blue This monument of their love was erected by her husband David Hume.

Barbara Johnstone’s father was James Johnston Baron of Elphinston, the maternal uncle of David Hume. Her mother was Margaret Ruthven, sister of Patrick Ruthven Earl of Gowrie, who participated in the murder of David Rizzio, Queen Mary’s Italian secretary. Consult Buchanan, Book XV. blue The grandsons of this Patrick by his son were those most unfortunate brothers the Earl of Gowrie and his young brother Alexander, who were slain by courtiers in the year 1600. blue


He died in the same year as his mother, and was buried at Abbey St. Bathans Church in the Lammermuirs.

spacerWhether I embraced this boy as my son or my fosterling, blue he whom You gave me by my dear wife, dear Father, I admit I rejoiced in this son, and in this fosterling whom You gave me by my dear wife, dear Father. Now I shall neither complain that he has been taken away, nor feel pain over my fosterling or my son, who was the offspring of his mother, dear to me. You must be my Father, and I must likewise be Your grateful fosterling. This is enough, this is more than enough, I am happy to abandon all else.


spacerDear boy, you bond and pledge of love between your mother and your father, you great gift of great God, whom He had given me, and now has taken away together with his mother, I am not more glad to have had you than to have lost you. Whatever He may do gladdens me, both what He has given and what He has taken away gladdens me, nor is the less sweet to me. This one thing I ponder and revolve in my humble mind: I must bear what He does, I must want whatever He wants.


spacerWhether I want to publish deserved praise, or unleash pious tears, there is no more fertile subject for tears or prays, oh you, always to be mourned in my verse. Your morals suited your beauty, and your beauty your morals, with a body worthy of your mild mind, and a soul worthy of your body. Now, obliged by my sincere love, I gratefully render to you the thanks I owed you, and shall always do so.


spacerThis was the source of the name which your mother once gave you, Anna, so that you would imitate her. No woman can be better than her, but you may be her equal, and none in the world will be greater than you.


spacerWhen you infuse your honey with your rosy grace, how much to you extol both yourself and such great men to high heaven! Happy the man who has earned such pronouncements of praise, and happy the man who is indebted to his merits. Also happy is the man who has earned nothing and yet receives them, and is indebted only to his good fortune. You who have earned praise must continue, you who have not must learn to deserve them and to weigh your praises in the scales of truth.



spacerBehold his mighty limbs, and behold his hand, as bold as Hercules’. His courage matches his strength, and his strength his courage. I dare and I can. I like to travel arduous paths. For my virtue, no way is impassible, and scarce any is difficult.


spacerJust as Hercules’ strength matched his sturdy limbs, and his bold mind his spirit, so no evils have shattered my mind. I have no less of a liking to complete great labors, no less of a liking to make my way through steep places. Whether you are Mars or Cupid, invite me to join any fray you choose, immediately I make my appearance as a brave man, and I prevail.

91. JAMES HAY K. B. blue

spacerBehold, just as you are a doubly sweet lord, so you are called such by your master and your mistress, as you are in both name in fact. For, just as your body, bathed by heaven’s waters, is rich with fragrances, balsam, nard, and ambrosia, so you will be twice times twice sweet if your soul is rich with fragrances, balsam, nard, and ambrosia.


spacerHis sage care has given to the light of day, the world, and his people the laws enacted by the king, the Commons, the nights, and the lords. Thus they life, for hidden laws are dead: for me, those which are mute are as good as dead. So can there ee any greater or nobler work, giving life and soul to our sacred laws?


spacerYour sage learning has collected these things, your wise prudence has digested and assembled them under their proper headings, and your candor has published them for the use of your freeborn people, your agreeable, upright and pious mind and your painstaking and ready hand. While you are wise for the common good, not consulting for your own personal benefit, you are more disposed to the advantage and glory of your nation. Just as this work honors you, you are an ornament for it, which makes me doubtful which confers the greater praise. Let him who did so well in placing you in charge of this blue be aware, and happily count it among his honors, how well the honor of this project has turned out.


spacerScotland, always fruitful with virtue (let Envy itself hear this and chew on its own guts), you same Scotland which has dared smite hostile pride with its steel (until now a land that has never known a foreign yoke), and no less a fostering mother to the Muses, and fruitful in giving the world both the Liberal Arts and heaven’s high ordinances., even nowadays how little you have grown barren! Behold the arts and the ancient laws of your doing which Skene has championed for your benefit. But let the works of Mars be a propitious thing for him, born of the stock of the Bruces and the glory of the line of Fergus. blue Let his great feats surpass the hope we have for him, and, equaling them when it comes to deeds, let him outshine his great ancestors in his glory.


spacerThe child of a pious father, and likewise the father of a pious father, having been reared by his father, as a father he too reared a child. He likewise gave a constant place to play, and likewise to church (offering hospitality to the Muses, and hospitality to God), rightly so, but his accomplishments fell right down. His child furnished him with pious funeral rites, which the Muse watered with her tears and her praise. And our Father Himself offered him the hospitality of heaven’s eternal precincts and of earth, the one for his body and the other for his soul.


spacerThe funeral lamentations of my first husband were sad for me, and now my funeral lamentations are sad for my husband. That marriage was harmonious and free of quarrelling, and my bed remained blameless. That grief was genuine, and my tears were faithful, and his grief is genuine too, he has no reason to pretend. And he repeatedly trumpets my praises (his cheeks puffed out), blue he has no reason to feign that either. You want to know my morality? This husband tells you by his mourning, as that one did by his loving, the evidence of either of them would satisfy anyone And I myself bear witness to the former by my grieving, and to the second by my loving. Now it would take Momus blue himself to disbelieve this evidence.


spacerJulius, Darius, Croesus, being possessed of this character of theirs and those empires, suffered their downfalls when thus the Fates decreed. Learn, you who rule, since kingdoms are also vanities, let you mind rise up wholly to God alone. Happy the servant who convinces his king of this, and happy the king who believes such a servant. [Happy indeed is the servant who has thus persuaded a king, and a king is only happy who has happened to acquire such a servant.] blue


spacerWhen dark death was flexing its muscles and wanted to create great terror on earth, it attacked Rollock, that teacher of life and of death, and pressed his pious neck beneath its baleful foot. Oh brutal death, you are accomplishing nothing: instead of death you are providing life, not death. He whom death carries off to better things does not die.


spacerRollock, that darling of mankind, that mild-mannered image of the God Whom he himself preached, whom lords and commoners, king and lords admired for his learning and adored for his gentleness and goodness, died early at a pious young age, before his day, cheating his nation of its prayers and its hope. Alas, who should not dread death, grim and brutal, if it refuses to spare the learned and the good? But who should fear death now, even if threatening savage things, if it cannot destroy the learned and the good?


spacerHe who bequeathed you so many children, you Kirk, in death left not a one for himself. It was reasonable for him to rise up forever from a barren death, he who lived as a Phoenix: now he dies and he becomes a father!


spacerHe who does not where I have gotten my rare, great wisdom, is also ignorant of my father. He does not know where I have gotten my rare, great learning, is also ignorant of my mother. Being the offspring of Cecil and Mildred, if I were not wise and learned, who in the world would be learned and wise?

102. TO THE SAME blue

spacerBeing the hatchling of Pallas and great Apollo, taught to be wise by her, and by him to speak things worthy of the Muses, you are thus worthy of Pallas, the Muses and Apollo, if you gently favor and foster your Muses.


spacerYou whom a golden reputation, that rivals the praise of your father and your mother, makes comparable to your ancient forebears, blue men whom fertile Britain has produced by her great childbirth, and the land of the Britons has produced by a rare childbirth, accept these poems, which are indeed small, but tokens of my great affection, and look on my slender playthings with a cheerful countenance. Although you manage all affairs, and great ones at that, perhaps moments of leisure are not less fit for your attention.


spacerDo you want to know who I am? Look at my face: this is the face of a senator, such as old Rome could acknowledge as its own. And, lest you think my face is lying, consider my mouth, one such as Tully could acknowledge to be his own. Now consider my morals, and acknowledge I am an ancient Cato, or whatever can be juster than Cato. And yet these things are human, but my mind rises up to the stars, and old Rome, great Tully, and Cato himself seem mean in my eyes. Since my great mind wholeheartedly aims at God, thus it becomes a companion of God Almighty, and the greatest source of my nourishment. blue


spacerYou who doubt how good it is for the Muses to have dealings with great Mars, consider me now and have no doubt. You how doubt how good is for the Muses to have dealings with great Pallas, consider me now and have no doubt. My heart offers hospitality both to Mars and the Muses, and Pallas rejoices to support me in my duties. This mind and this hand shattered the harsh Spanish, blue but this mind and this hand are no less fit for the Muses. Lest men imagine that prudent Pallas is failing me, great James, I return as a member of your Council. Learn from my example and familiarize yourselves, my noble sirs, so that your glory might be genuine and complete in all its numbers.


spacerI am Home, the man whom Clan Home reveres as its chieftain, great Alexander, unworthy neither, of such a great name or such a great epithet, although golden peace has forestalled the glories of war, our kingdoms being united,. My reputation acknowledges me to be a brave, ready-handed man, like to my forebears, and I have striven to do my king faithful and energetic service, being well-disposed towards him, and well-regarded by him. I have lived ten lustra and three years. blue Of these, my first and rather inconsiderate one suffered some losses, but the next and better one repaid me, and a following one restored my fortune and my ancient patrimony in full. To my titles I added the sublime one of Earl, being great in fact as well as in name, and worthy of my great ancestors. The largesse of my generous hand removed the lamentation and tears of the poor, I never sent them away empty-handed. My conversation was affable to my friends: thus arrogance was absent from my expression, and petulance from my words. I never harmed a man either in secret or openly, in his presence or in his absence, nor did I ever say a harsh word of anybody, being rare and unusual in this virtue.
spacer I was happy in both my marriages, whether you consider either my wives’ beauty or their Scottish or English breeding. blue It is not easy to say which was the better. But the latter was more blessed in childbearing, having given birth to three sons and three daughters, of whom two were taken away by their destinies before I suffered mine. Therefore you alone survive, blue you single hope and support of my house. May you continue to survive, bringing enduring happiness to your mother and our clan, to your nation and to God. Greater than your great forebears, may you live to a ripe age, and be happily reborn in a long line of descendants.


spacerI, Home, descended from the stock of an ancient baron, blue the chief of a clan distinguished (though envy may protest) for its numbers and wealth, famed for its glories in war and in peace, which stands head and shoulders above all the families (scarce undistinguished) which the martial Merse blue nurses at its fruitful bosom, the single one which is more just and better than all the rest, being the single one which is the largest, and yet (as Momus himself would adjudge) blue oppressive to none, though possessed of such powers. Let it go well for you, and may you make sure all you procure. May your far descendants through the centuries cultivate justice and grow accustomed to the right and the pious, beloved to their nation and oppressive only to their enemies. May the family live in harmony with itself and its chief, far removed from all insolence, envy, and quarrels, ready to tolerate each other and be tolerated in turn, so that their evil malice might scorch its enemies. It is in this hope, my son, that I leave you. It is in this hope, my wife, that I leave you, since you are beloved and best, worthy of being loved. I entrust all else to God, caring nothing for human affairs. Be you pious. Now my Father summons me from this earthly world to heaven. Now my spirit aspires to the choirs above and rejoices in the godhead of Christ, trusting in the godhead of Christ alone, devoting itself only to Christ [ . . . ], embracing and clinging to Him. I strive and I hope to wash away my earthly stain with His blood, and it is with this hope that I sink down in death.


spacerSo should we grieve that you have been taken away, son, we your parents who were dear to you and to whom you were likewise dear? Happy the man who has lived long for his parents, pleasing them in life and pleasing them in death. We rejoice that you were born, that is enough. What more do you desire? Remember that Man is given the assured lot of death.


spacerIf, Nicola, it were permitted me to disturb your triumphs and do violence to your happiness, or if it were permitted me to unbridle my personal sorrow and be swept away where my mind would sweep me, I should be submerged in tears and summon rocks with my lament, blue complaining of seas, lands, and the savage Fates. I should fill my pages, and the entire world, with your praises, and neither my pages nor the world would suffice for me. But I am not permitted to disturb your triumphs in heave, or trouble your happiness with my grieving. Nor am I allowed thus to unbridle my personal frenzy, so that I would be swept where my mind would sweep me. Your death is greater than my tears and my complaints, and you yourself are greater than my praises. I do what remains: I look up at heaven, and see you there, and hold my silence, and worship the God who does these things.


spacerYou who were accustomed to giving me the greatest consolations in your life continue to bring me the greatest joys in your death. And so for me you are alive, you still survive and conquer death and the Fates, dear and beloved to our living God. Your name is fragrant, redolent with everlasting honors, you whose live was dedicated to our God on high. On this score, I thanked God during your life, and now that you have passed away once more I offer up my thanks to God.


spacerIf you doubt that it is possible for a pious, good, and sincere man to live at court, consider this man and cease your doubting. Let [...] realize this, and let fame proclaim it, pious men who hold office at court are also held in honor. For him, no greater glory or honor arises from any other source. And, you court, high honor arises for you.


spacerHaving lived as a daughter no whit inferior to my good mother, in death I deserve to be hymned with equal praise Now I have lived as a better daughter than my good mother blue (if any woman can be better), and in death I am hymned with greater praise. I was chaste, although handsome; prudent, albeit pious; a frugal woman, but no less generous with my mind than in my hand. Wholly in love with my husband and with virtue, but a friend to the good in any way that chaste love could touch my heart. You are blessed, if you can say this of a sister or a niece, this is not the least ornament you can add to your titles. You are blessed, if you can say this of your wife or your daughter, and you are blessed if you are sufficiently aware this is your good fortune.


spacerI do not know, my Melville, whether you are honey or bile, wine or venom, you who smear your verses with so much bile. You are not wine, you are wine gone sour, dregs, and acid-tasting vinegar. Nor are you honey, but rather you resemble the candied apples blue that children adore. But, whether you are honey or bile, wine or venom, a naughty honeybee is attacking Melville.


114. HIS RUDENESS blue

Melville had written some very biting epigrams against the Anglican altar and its rigmarole, and the British bishops. Hence he was ill-treated and imprisoned in the Tower of London for four years, beginning at age 73, in 1605, until he was 77 years old. Afterwards, at the behest of the Duc du Bouillon he was sent over to Sedan, where, broken by old age and the miseries of incarceration, he did nothing noteworthy, although he publicly taught theology at the behest of his prince.

spacerIf Melville should see that the dry baptismal fonts, the altars, the closed books, the lights bereft of their light, blue and everything else deprived its proper function, why in the world should he not say so, and call those men wolves whom he knows to be wolves. You are rude. Is he the King of Scots, Melville, or Philip of Macedon, for whose benefit a spade can be called anything but a spade?


spacerWith an undisguised expression on his face, he savagely rebukes vice, and dares speak of a thing and call things by their proper names. Once Melville would have had the reputation for being passionate, but nowadays he is reputed to be a hot-head, out of his mind, and out of control. Either the meanings of words need to be changed thanks to the vice of the times, or things have changed, and the things which used to be good now are bad. But no meanings of words are changed thanks to the vice of the times: things are changed, and things that used to be good are now bad.


spacerMelville stands for the right, he insists on the right, and he preaches the right, always tenacious for the right as much as he can be. When he addresses a matter, and speaks of the things at work concerning that matter, treating it thoroughly so that in this way he might annoy, vex, and accuse his enemies, they exclaim, “Oh foolish, shameful license! Let him speak pleasant things or nothing at all. A man is wise who is wise according to this standard.” But Scottish affairs and the kirk may go hang. So what? That does not apply to us. A man is either wise according to this standard or he is a good man.


Barclay was the author of Euphorion (printed at London in 1605), and he wrote epigrams against Melville, [in one of which he said] “You don’t want an altar, you want a sty, a pig-stall in which you may worship God.” In the language of the Chaldees bar means “son,” and “clay” means “mud” in Scottish. “Bark” in Scottish signifies the sound of a dog.

spacerBark and bark again, spattering Melville with mud and clay, all in vain: he shines no less. Bark and bark again, spattering Melville with mud and clay. This is not in vain: he shines the more.


spacerUnfunny witticisms, the kind of exchanges which a chatterbox old beldame hurls in quarrels, and implied aspersions and rotten lies, uttered with no discrimination or decency, or even any sense of shame. Pronouncements either not understood by a stupid mind, or distorted by a rascally one, or manufactured by a depraved one. Death, prison, and everything which either a dog would bark or with which a wolf would rend, offered by your insults. They suggest that your mouth, your nature, your heart, your mind are inhuman, although presented under a show of humanity. Rather they go to show that your mouth, your character, and your foul, bestial frenzy are those of a hound of Tartarus or a Romish wolf.


The author wrote two other epigrams to Melvin, Lata culpa and Ineptus timor, but since these are excessively bitter against the Anglican bishops, I have omitted them.

spacer“So you are rude, Melville. This is your worst fault. This mad passion, this fear of yours, blue this foolish license and implacable anger, which hounds of the Styx and Tartarus bark.” Good for you! These reproaches are in vain, and you celebrate your triumph above the stars, now the second blue rare glory of your nation.


spacerBorn in the seventh year of their marriage, and at age seven an object of care for my father, the answer to my mother’s prayer, a great hope to my kinsmen, an object of wonder to one and all, possessed of a deep character, keen judgment, modest nature, and pleasing manners, beyond my years in wisdom and speaking, after scarcely the same number of years had passed again I was joined, but then divorced, in a great but unlucky marriage, with Hymen himself not in attendance. blue Had my marriage vows been joined in a better bond, I would not have been found wanting in hopes, property, or intention, and I had no lack of worthy, desirable suitors. Meanwhile a fiery fever overcame me, and when cruel death had taken away my mother, it joined me to her, after having lingered a little while, and now it has buried us in a single tomb in a single hour. Why does the throng of men complain? No brief day remains for me, I am satisfied with my age, my affairs, and my virtue, and I have done all my duties on this earth. Heaven prevails, and for it my eager mind has long aspired. Let there be no delay, I happily obey Him Who summons me, nor could I have gone as someone’s companion with any better auspices. I embrace you, beloved mother, behold how I happily accompany you. But you whom the weight of earth holds back, dare to be wise, and learn from this how fragile and dull-witted are our hopes, how all things are foolish vanities, and learn to elevate your minds above your human misfortunes.


spacerLearn piety from me, my son, and fear of the Lord: you may learn anything else from others. Let this wisdom carry you to heaven, and teach you to trample the earth beneath your feet. Run the race I have run. I have sought no honors, and no wealth. Truly, for me kingdoms and empires of this earth are cheap, and their pinnacle seems squalid. Christ has been my entire love, my one constant care, my one serious one. Whenever error has led me astray, or the infirmity of a mind not sufficiently strong, being accustomed to wax angry in profane ways, to be indignant, to hope to thrash the haughty and (let it be admitted) to exercise a another kind of pride in shattering pride blue and using force to fend of force, if any sin lurked here or in any other way I ever put a foot wrong on life’s slippery path, nevertheless Christ clings to my marrow and teaches me to tolerate contempt contemptuously, and high-mindedly to surmount the wrath of kings and my sufferings.