Monday, August 02, 2010
We are born once and cannot be born twice, but for all time must be no more. But you, who are not master of to-morrow, postpone your happiness: life is wasted in procrastination and each one of us dies without allowing himself leisure.
Γεγόναμεν ἅπαξ, δὶς δὲ οὐκ ἔστι γενέσθαι· δεῖ δὲ τὸν αἰῶνα μηκέτι εἶναι· σὺ δὲ οὐκ ὢν τῆς αὔριον <κύριος> ἀναβάλλῃ τὸ χαῖρον· ὁ δὲ βίος μελλησμῷ παραπόλλυται καὶ εἷς ἕκαστος ἡμῶν ἀσχολούμενος ἀποθνῄσκει.
You say you'll live tomorrow, Postumus, always tomorrow: tell me, Postumus, when does that tomorrow of yours arrive? How far away that tomorrow of yours is! Where is it? Or whence is it to be sought? Is it hiding among the Parthians and Armenians? That tomorrow of yours is already as old as Priam or Nestor. That tomorrow of yours, tell me, for how much could it be purchased? You'll live tomorrow? It's too late to live even today, Postumus: the wise man is the one who lived yesterday.Note the insistent repetition of cras = tomorrow, which we also see embedded like a fossil in the English word procrastination.
Cras te victurum, cras dicis, Postume, semper:
dic mihi, cras istud, Postume, quando venit?
Quam longe cras istud! ubi est? aut unde petendum?
Numquid apud Parthos Armeniosque latet?
Iam cras istud habet Priami vel Nestoris annos.
Cras istud quanti, dic mihi, possit emi?
Cras vives? Hodie iam vivere, Postume, serum est:
ille sapit quisquis, Postume, vixit heri.
Buson, from New Flower Picking (Shin Hanatsumi), tr. Yuki Sawa and Edith M. Shiffert:
What you want to acquire, you should acquire by any means. What you want to see, even though it is with difficulty, you should see. You should not let it pass, thinking there will be another chance to see it or acquire it. It is quite unusual to have a second chance to materialize your desire.