A Retired Life
What a life of restful ease! Leaving behind
all the strife and dissension the world hurls,
I flee down the path whose hidden way unfurls
itself to few! We fortunate few are the only true
philosophers who ever lived.
For we are neither twitched by ambition or pride,
or troubled by the wealth of the merchant Moor;
but, far 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?
Or fly in pursuit of the butterfly wing
of Fame? Or be made breathless by sharp desire
blended with mortal care?
Ah! Mountain, spring, river!
Ah! Secure, delirious, delightful retreat!
My ship almost wrecked on the rapids of life, I shiver
through the ebb of a stormy sea, and turn my feet
to your sweet peace.
I want to live alone, spending 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