Sunday, August 24, 2008


Contentus Parvo

Joachim Du Bellay (1525-1560), Les Regrets XXXVIII (tr. C.H. Sisson):
O happy the man who can spend his life
Among his own kind: and who, without pretence,
Without fear, without envy, and in full content
Reigns peacefully at his own poor fireside.
The wretched trouble of acquiring more
Does not tyrannise over his affections,
His highest desire, a desire without passion,
Extends only to what his father had before him.
He does not bother with other people's affairs,
His main hope is for what is already there,
He is his own master in all that he does.
He does not waste what he has abroad,
He does not waste his life for a foreign cause,
And he does not want to be richer than he is.
Prose version by Richard Helgerson:
O happy the man who can spend his life with people like himself, and who, without feigning, without fear, without envy, and without ambition, reigns peacefully in his own poor household!

The miserable trouble of acquiring more does not tyrannize over his free inclinations, and his greatest desire, a desire without passion, reaches no further than his own inheritance.

He does not trouble himself with the business of others. His chief hope depends only on himself. He is his own court, his king, his benefactor, and his master.

He does not devour his wealth in a foreign country. He does not put his life in danger for others. And he would not want to be richer than he is.
French original:
O qu'heureux est celuy qui peult passer son aage
Entre pareils à soy! et qui sans fiction,
Sans crainte, sans envie, et sans ambition,
Regne paisiblement en son pauvre mesnage!

Le miserable soing d'acquerir d'avantage
Ne tyrannise point sa libre affection,
Et son plus grand desir, desir sans passion,
Ne s'estend plus avant que son propre heritage.

Il ne s'empesche point des affaires d'autry,
Son principal espoir ne depend que de luy,
Il est sa court, son roy, sa faveur, et son maistre.

Il ne mange son bien en païs estranger,
Il ne met pour autry sa personne en danger,
Et plus riche qu'il est ne voudroit jamais estre.

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