When I Was Ill
Beatus ille, qui procul negotiis – Horace:
Happy the man, who far from life’s allure
Is not too rich – and likewise not too poor
Whose soul untroubled then can contemplate,
The being too that it should emulate!
Should fools’ acclaim and glory’s empty shell –
Should heaps of gleaming metal and their spell –
Should golden chains – a slave that has been crowned –
The world – as dear as our own soul be found?
Why did your once strong soul sink helplessly,
You first of men – deep – to inconstancy?
Why did you quail at the Almighty’s hand?
Distraction your wise spirit not withstand?
For all distraction marks the soul’s demise,
At anger’s voice all thoughts are scattered wide
In great confusion they now reel about
Midst things both good and bad weave in and out,
Soul hold to blessedness! – ’tis yours today!
By dust you are from heaven called away!
Chimera swallows all the dust you saw!
Your own thoughts you do not know any more!
Ah! – when devotion – when my prayers are warm,
When I uplifted – high – on mercy’s arm,
Spread God abroad – and feel divinely blessed,
Why does Dorine then come to my breast?
And when I found pure love in its full flush
The fire at which no wise man e’er would blush,
Why does a thought of Homer then wrench free
My soul from that fair Helen whom I see?
Ah! were our thoughts but constant, good and wise
Our soul would find – and stay in paradise!
For blessedness reflection can espy
It feels it but is not attached thereby.
Oh child of Adam! – oh unhappy one!
Why do you seek distraction you should shun?
Why are you faint? – Behold the maelstrom – quake!
Think now! – is not your precious self at stake?
Happy the man who’s not by clink so gay
Of brimful glass – nor by the sirens’ lay
Nor the enslaving voice of gold – nor clash
Of murd’rous steel, nor by some herald brash
Nor false friends’ mocking tones – nor wretches’ tears
The tedium of bores – fools’ counsel’s snares
Nor by foes’ mighty roar – or weak men’s cries,
Deprived of God – joy – sense – himself likewise!
Welcome you poison raging in my breast!
Welcome all pain that has my joy suppressed!
And lack – you who it was took my last friend,
Welcome! – since you gave me myself again.
Since my Creator only can know pure delight,
And without others’ help be happy quite,
I will then honour him – my self stay nigh,
Forget all fame – and gold – each roar – and cry!
The Delights Of Rungsted. An Ode
You shadows refreshing,
You darkness from roses now stealing;
Where busily nesting
The songstress her home is revealing –,
Where streams whose carousing
Now lulls, now is rousing
The Muses’ best darling, the sentient bard,
With murmurings close to the heart –
Where cattle are lowing,
At woodland-sons’ fleet gallivanting,
And breathe hard at knowing
The plenty in which they are panting –
Where reapers are singing,
Midst golden stacks swinging,
And count out their treasure and let cries resound
To him who their hope now has crowned.
Where, skittishly playing,
Waves wash o’er the roamer, who quick-eyed
First finds his gaze straying
At Helsinge’s grey-shaded hillside
Then wond’ringly hastens
Through forests of masts and
Inspects, then makes out foreign flags straight away,
Forgetting the fast-waning day. –
Where balm of the lonely,
Sweet slumber so gently relieving,
Louise oft solely
Could help one forget the heart’s grieving –
Where joys offer home, a
Repose for the roamer,
Where Rungsted encloses delights pure and chaste:
There did the muse fill my breast.
Where pain and affliction,
With joy found your imprint, Oh High One,
The pure heart’s depiction
By every compassionate eye won –
Where friendship adds worth to
The strictest of virtues;
There did my song grow; and the forest in awe
Re-echoed the Great Maker’s law.
I saw your thrones gleam too,
Almighty! – my gaze all aquiver –
But tones divine passed through
The strings with each shiver –
Each leaf where I sighted
The High One ignited
My soul – and exulted at which my song swelled! –
The mighty sound could not be quelled! –
Oh all the Worlds’ Father! –
So sang I – You Strong One! – You Wise One!
God! Whom myriads are
Now praising as do heaven’s prized ones!
See, how dust can carry
Your plenty, your glory,
Your goodness, oh Father! – so sang I – and joy
My lips’ quaking sound did employ. –
O poet most blissful,
That gladness bade come to his dwelling;
To duties most cheerful,
To freedom, though virtues compelling! –
All cherubs while winging
His bold voice hear ringing,
And heavens are gathered around him; and joy
Unfolds in man’s breast, ne’er to cloy.
But you, you alone drew
From anguish such joy beyond measure
Say! – has my muse power to
Unfold in your heart greatest pleasure?
O sweet friend, recite me! –
Can song’s goddess lightly
With soft-melting notes the lap then reward
That me such delight did afford? –