Jan Kochanowski

1530 - 1584 / Sycyna / Poland

Lament I

Come, Heraclitus and Simonides,
Come with your weeping and sad elegies:
Ye griefs and sorrows, come from all the lands
Wherein ye sigh and wail and wring your hands:
Gather ye here within my house today
And help me mourn my sweet, whom in her May
Ungodly Death hath ta'en to his estate,
Leaving me on a sudden desolate.
'Tis so a serpent glides on some shy nest
And, of the tiny nightingales possessed,
Doth glut its throat, though, frenzied with her fear,
The mother bird doth beat and twitter near
And strike the monster, till it turns and gapes
To swallow her, and she but just escapes.
''Tis vain to weep,' my friends perchance will say.
Dear God, is aught in life not vain, then? Nay,
Seek to lie soft, yet thorns will prickly be:
The life of man is naught but vanity.
Ah, which were better, then - to seek relief
In tears, or sternly strive to conquer grief?
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