A Retired Life
Retired! And what a life of restful ease it is!
all the strife and dissension the world hurls
at its active players,
I flee down a path whose hidden way unfurls
itself to few!
Yes, we fortunate few are the only true
philosophers who’ve ever lived.
For we are neither twitched by ambition or pride,
or troubled by the wealth of the merchant Moor;
but, far removed from love and jealousy,
upon a mountainside
carpeted with flowers, peopled with untaught birds,
we look down on the worldly poor.
What pleasure does it bring
to be pointed out by boastful strangers
as their friend?
Now I beware
of flying in pursuit of the butterfly wing
No longer do I breathlessly aspire
to indulge that sharp desire,
blended with mortal care!
Instead, I rest my soul on mountain springs!
Ah! Secure, delirious, delightful retreat!
My ship was almost wrecked on the rapids of life;
but I shivered
through the ebb of a stormy sea, and turned my feet
to your sweet peace.
I want to live alone, spending all the wealth
that God has given me;
sleep an untroubled sleep,
unbroken by dreams of hatred, hope or stealth;
and wake into a day
where freedom and happiness sweep
scepters into oblivion.
Let those who trust themselves to fragile barques,
keep their treasures!
For the masts of any vessel
soon crack beneath a tempest, blasting
a clear day into a blind night. Confused cries clamor
up to the heavens.
Travelers rival one another in casting
their riches into the sea.
For me, a poor little table set in a rough palisade
A measured breeze wafts the fragrance of asphodel.
Surrounded by peace and serenity, I serenade
myself, as I recline,
crowned with ivy and immortal laurel,
taking my ease in the shade.
—translated from the Spanish of Father Luis de Leon (1527-1591)