De rerum natura
Mother of Rome, delight of Gods and men,
Dear Venus that beneath the gliding stars
Makest to teem the many-voyaged main
And fruitful lands- for all of living things
Through thee alone are evermore conceived,
Through thee are risen to visit the great sun-
Before thee, Goddess, and thy coming on,
Flee stormy wind and massy cloud away,
For thee the daedal Earth bears scented flowers,
For thee waters of the unvexed deep
Smile, and the hollows of the serene sky
Glow with diffused radiance for thee!
For soon as comes the springtime face of day,
And procreant gales blow from the West unbarred,
First fowls of air, smit to the heart by thee,
Foretoken thy approach, O thou Divine,
And leap the wild herds round the happy fields
Or swim the bounding torrents. Thus amain,
Seized with the spell, all creatures follow thee
Whithersoever thou walkest forth to lead,
And thence through seas and mountains and swift streams,
Through leafy homes of birds and greening plains,
Kindling the lure of love in every breast,
Thou bringest the eternal generations forth,
Kind after kind. And since 'tis thou alone
Guidest the Cosmos, and without thee naught
Is risen to reach the shining shores of light,
Nor aught of joyful or of lovely born,
Thee do I crave co-partner in that verse
Which I presume on Nature to compose
For Memmius mine, whom thou hast willed to be
Peerless in every grace at every hour-
Wherefore indeed, Divine one, give my words
Immortal charm. Lull to a timely rest
O'er sea and land the savage works of war,
For thou alone hast power with public peace
To aid mortality; since he who rules
The savage works of battle, puissant Mars,
How often to thy bosom flings his strength
O'ermastered by the eternal wound of love-
And there, with eyes and full throat backward thrown,
Gazing, my Goddess, open-mouthed at thee,
Pastures on love his greedy sight, his breath
Hanging upon thy lips. Him thus reclined
Fill with thy holy body, round, above!
Pour from those lips soft syllables to win
Peace for the Romans, glorious Lady, peace!
For in a season troublous to the state
Neither may I attend this task of mine
With thought untroubled, nor mid such events
The illustrious scion of the Memmian house
Neglect the civic cause.
A man leaves his great house because he's bored
With life at home, and suddenly returns,
Finding himself no happier abroad.
He rushes off to his villa driving like mad,
You'ld think he's going to a house on fire,
And yawns before he's put his foot inside,
Or falls asleep and seeks oblivion,
Or even rushes back to town again.
So each man flies from himself (vain hope, because
It clings to him the more closely against his will)
And hates himself because he is sick in mind
And does not know the cause of his disease.
Nothing is more blissful than to occupy the heights effectively fortified by the teaching of the wise, tranquil sanctuaries from which you can look down upon others and see them wandering everywhere in their random search for the way of life, competing for intellectual eminence, disputing about rank, and striving night and day with prodigious effort to scale the summit of wealth and to secure power. O minds of mortals, blighted by your blindness! Amid what deep darkness and daunting dangers life’s little day is passed! To think that you should fail to see that nature importantly demands only that the body may be rid of pain, and that the mind, divorced from anxiety and fear, may enjoy a feeling of contentment!
Trees don't live in the sky, and clouds don't swim
In the salt seas, and fish don't leap in wheatfields,
Blood isn't found in wood, nor sap in rocks.
By fixed arrangement, all that live and grows
Submits to limit and restrictions.
You see that stones are worn away by time,
Rocks rot, and towers topple, even the shrines
And images of the gods grow very tired,
Develop crack or wrinkles, their holy wills
Unable to extend their fated term,
To litigate against the Laws of Nature.
And don't we see the monuments of men
Collapse, as if to ask us, "Are not we
As frail as those whom we commemorate?"?
Boulders come plunging down from the mountain heights,
Poor weaklings with no power to resist
The thrust that says to them, Your time has come!
But they would be rooted in steadfastness
Had they endured from time beyond all time,
As far back as infinity. Look about you!
Whatever it is that holds in its embrace
All earth, if it projects, as some men say,
All things out of itself, and takes them back
When they have perished, must itself consist
Of mortal elements. The parts must add
Up to the sum. Whatever gives away
Must lose in the procedure, and gain again
Whenever it takes back.
The rest leap far asunder, far recoil,
Leaving huge gaps between: and these supply
For us thin air and splendour-lights of the sun.
And many besides wander the mighty void-
Cast back from unions of existing things,
Nowhere accepted in the universe,
And nowise linked in motions to the rest.
And of this fact (as I record it here)
An image, a type goes on before our eyes
Present each moment; for behold whenever
The sun's light and the rays, let in, pour down
Across dark halls of houses: thou wilt see
The many mites in many a manner mixed
Amid a void in the very light of the rays,
And battling on, as in eternal strife,
And in battalions contending without halt,
In meetings, partings, harried up and down.
From this thou mayest conjecture of what sort
The ceaseless tossing of primordial seeds
Amid the mightier void- at least so far
As small affair can for a vaster serve,
And by example put thee on the spoor
Of knowledge. For this reason too 'tis fit
Thou turn thy mind the more unto these bodies
Which here are witnessed tumbling in the light:
Namely, because such tumblings are a sign
That motions also of the primal stuff
Secret and viewless lurk beneath, behind.
For thou wilt mark here many a speck, impelled
By viewless blows, to change its little course,
And beaten backwards to return again,
Hither and thither in all directions round.
Lo, all their shifting movement is of old,
From the primeval atoms; for the same
Primordial seeds of things first move of self,
And then those bodies built of unions small
And nearest, as it were, unto the powers
Of the primeval atoms, are stirred up
By impulse of those atoms' unseen blows,
And these thereafter goad the next in size:
Thus motion ascends from the primevals on,
And stage by stage emerges to our sense,
Until those objects also move which we
Can mark in sunbeams, though it not appears
What blows do urge them.
in terris oppressa gravi sub religione,
quae caput a caeli regionibus ostendebat
horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans,
primum Graius homo mortalis tollere contra
est oculos ausus primusque obsistere contra;
quem neque fama deum nec fulmina nec minitanti
murmure compressit caelum, sed eo magis acrem
inritat animi virtutem, effringere ut arta
naturae primus portarum claustra cupiret.
in the lands, crushed under heavy Religion,
which was displaying its head from the regions of the sky,
lowering with a horrible face over mortals,
for the first time a Greek man dared to direct
his eyes against it, and he was the first to stand against it.
Neither the fame of the gods nor thunderbolds nor the sky
with its threatening murmur controlled him but it provoked
the sharp virtue of his mind so much more that he wanted
to be the first to break open the close-barred barriers of nature’s gates.
op aarde neerlag, verdrukt door de strenge godsdienst
die haar hoofd vanuit de hemelsferen toonde,
de stervelingen van boven bedreigend met zijn afgrijselijke blik,
durfde voor het eerst een Griekse sterveling zijn ogen
ertegen op te heffen en zich als eerste ertegen te verzetten;
Noch legenden over de goden, noch de bliksems, noch de hemel
met zijn dreigend gedreun konden hem het zwijgen opleggen,
maar des te meer vuurden ze zijn scherpe intelligentie aan, zodat hij als eerste
verlangde de strakke grendels van de poorten van de natuur open te breken.