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John Howard Reid

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A Retired Life
by John Howard Reid
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by John Howard Reid
•  ROSALIA de CASTRO The Old Road Del antiguo camino
•  HAPPINESS by Rosalia de Castro
•  Restless Thoughts by Rosalia de Castro
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           >> View all 155

Unlike English, the Spanish language has hardly changed at all since the 14th century. The words of this beautiful poem by Father Luis de Leon seem as modern as tomorrow. For this translation, I have taken some liberties with the original versification, but not with the vocabulary. This poem, along with many originals of my own composition, is featured in my book, "Anyone for Love?"


 

A Retired Life

 

Retired! And what a life of restful ease it is!

Leaving behind

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

of Fame!

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

is enough.

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Howard Reid
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Reviewed by john salmon 12/9/2008
It echo's through time, such a restful and peaceful place.



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