Jan Kochanowski

1530 - 1584 / Sycyna / Poland

Lament XV

Golden-locked Erato, and thou, sweet lute,
The comfort of the sad and destitute,
Calm thou my sorrow, lest I too become
A marble pillar shedding through the dumb
But living stone my almost bloody tears,
A monument of grief for coming years.
For when we think of mankind's evil chance
Does not our private grief gain temperance?
Unhappy mother (if 'tis evil hap
We blame when caught in our own folly's trap)
Where are thy sons and daughters, seven each,
The joyful cause of thy too boastful speech?
I see their fourteen stones, and thou, alas,
Who from thy misery wouldst gladly pass
To death, dost kiss the tombs, O wretched one,
Where lies thy fruit so cruelly undone.
Thus blossoms fall where some keen sickle passes
And so, when rain doth level them, green grasses.
What hope canst thou yet harbor in thee? Why
Dost thou not drive thy sorrow hence and die?
And thy swift arrows, Phoebus, what do they?
And thine unerring bow, Diana? Slay
Her, ye avenging gods, if not in rage,
Then out of pity for her desolate age.
A punishment for pride before unknown
Hath fallen: Niobe is turned to stone,
And borne in whirlwind arms o'er seas and lands,
On Sipylus in deathless marble stands.
Yet from her living wounds a crystal fountain
Of tears flows through the rock and down the mountain,
Whence beast and bird may drink; but she, in chains,
Fixed in the path of all the winds remains.
This tomb holds naught, this woman hath no tomb:
To be both grave and body is her doom.
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