Jan Kochanowski

1530 - 1584 / Sycyna / Poland

Lament VI

Dear little Slavic Sappho, we had thought,
Hearing thy songs so sweetly, deftly wrought,
That thou shouldst have an heritage one day
Beyond thy father's lands: his lute to play.
For not an hour of daylight's joyous round
But thou didst fill it full of lovely sound,
Just as the nightingale doth scatter pleasure
Upon the dark, in glad unstinted measure.
Then Death came stalking near thee, timid thing,
And thou in sudden terror tookest wing.
Ah, that delight, it was not overlong
And I pay dear with sorrow for brief song.
Thou still wert singing when thou cam'st to die;
Kissing thy mother, thus thou saidst good-bye:
'My mother, I shall serve thee now no more
Nor sit about thy table's charming store;
I must lay down my keys to go from here,
To leave the mansion of my parents dear.'
This and what sorrow now will let me tell
No longer, were my darling's last farewell.
Ah, strong her mother's heart, to feel the pain
Of those last words and not to burst in twain.
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