Saturday, January 17, 2009


In Leisure and Obscurity

John Norris (1657-1711), The Choice (after Seneca):
No, I shan't envy him who're he be
That stands upon the Battlements of State;
    Stand there who will for me,
    I'd rather be secure than great.
Of being so high the pleasure is but small,
But long the Ruin, if I chance to fall.

Let me in some sweet shade serenely lye,
Happy in leisure and obscurity;
    Whilst others place their joys
    In Popularity and noise.
Let my soft moments glide obscurely on
Like subterraneous streams, unheard, unknown.

Thus when my days are all in silence past,
A good plain Country-man I'll dye at last;
    Death cannot chuse but be
    To him a mighty misery,
Who to the World was popularly known,
And dies a Stranger to himself alone.
Seneca, Thyestes 391-403:
Stet quicumque volet potens
aulae culmine lubrico:
me dulcis saturet quies.
obscuro positus loco
leni perfruar otio,
nullis nota Quiritibus
aetas per tacitum fluat.
sic cum transierint mei
nullo cum strepitu dies,
plebeius moriar senex.
illi mors gravis incubat
qui, notus nimis omnibus,
ignotus moritur sibi.
Hat tip: Brandon Watson at Siris.

Related post: In Calm Leisure Let Me Rest.

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