Jan Kochanowski

1530 - 1584 / Sycyna / Poland

Lament IX

Thou shouldst be purchased, Wisdom, for much gold
If all they say of thee is truly told:
That thou canst root out from the mind the host
Of longings and canst change a man almost
Into an angel whom no grief can sap,
Who is not prone to fear nor evil hap.
Thou seest all things human as they are -
Trifles. Thou bearest in thy breast a star
Fixed and tranquil, and dost contemplate
Death unafraid, still calm, inviolate.
Of riches, one thing thou dost hold the measure:
Proportion to man's needs - not gold nor treasure;
Thy searching eyes have power to behold
The beggar housed beneath the roof of gold,
Nor dost thou grudge the poor man fame as blest
If he but hearken him to thy behest.
Oh, hapless, hapless man am I, who sought
If I might gain thy thresholds by much thought,
Cast down from thy last steps after so long,
But one amid the countless, hopeless throng!
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