Jan Kochanowski

1530 - 1584 / Sycyna / Poland

Lament XI

'Virtue is but a trifle!' Brutus said
In his defeat; nor was he cozened.
What man did his own goodness e'er advance
Or piety preserve from evil chance?
Some unknown foe confuses men's affairs;
For good and bad alike it nothing cares.
Where blows its breath, no man can flee away;
Both false and righteous it hath power to stay.
Yet still we vaunt us of our mighty mind
In idle arrogance among our kind;
And still we gaze on heaven and think we see
The Lord and his all-holy mystery.
Nay, human eyes are all too dull; light dreams
Amuse and cheat us with what only seems.
Ah, dost thou rob me, Grief, my safeguards spurning,
Of both my darling and my trust in learning?
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