Wednesday, June 19, 2013



Christophe Plantin (1520-1589), "Le Bonheur de ce Monde," tr. James Robertson in Arachnia, Occasional Verses (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1904), p. 148:
To own a house clean, roomy, fair to see;
   A fragrant garden hung with trellised vine;
   Few children, little show; fresh fruits, best wine,
And, all thine own in peace, one true dear she:
To dwell from debt, intrigue, feud, lawsuit, free,
   And troublous claim of kin on thine estate;
   Humbly content, nought hoping from the great,
Proportion's rule in all sufficing thee:—
With freedom's rights, without ambition's care,
To live the life of unaffected prayer,
   To curb each rise of passion's ruder breath;—
To keep thy mind unyoked, thy judgement keen,
To tell thy beads and tend thy buds at e'en;—
   True home is this, and gentle tryst with death.
The same, tr. Robert Bridges in Bramble Brae (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1902), p. 19:
To have a home, convenient for thy life,
   With fragrant fruit-walls in a garden fine,
   Some children, some retainers, and rare wine;
To live serenely with thy faithful wife;
To have no debts, nor quarrels, nor legal strife,
   Nor separation from dear kin of thine;
   Expecting nothing from the Great, to shine
With modest light and just, where greed is rife.

To live with freedom, yet to be devout,
Ruling thy well-curbed passions—and without
   Ambition's scourge to thwart thy regnant will;
Truly to worship God with ardent breath
   Among His shrubs and trees on plain and hill—
Thus pleasantly shalt thou at home wait Death.
The French:
Avoir une maison commode, propre et belle,
Un jardin tapissé d'espaliers odorans,
Des fruits, d'excellent vin, peu de train, peu d'enfans,
Posseder seul, sans bruit, une femme fidèle,

N'avoir dettes, amour, ni procés, ni querelle,
Ni de partage à faire avecque ses parens,
Se contenter de peu, n'esperer rien des Grands,
Régler tous ses desseins sur un juste modèle,

Vivre avecque franchise et sans ambition,
S'adonner sans scrupule à la dévotion,
Domter ses passions, les rendre obéissantes,

Conserver l'esprit libre et le jugement fort,
Dire son Chapelet en cultivant ses entes,
C'est attendre chez soi bien doucement la mort.
Plantin was inspired by Martial 10.47, here in D.R. Shackleton Bailey's translation:
Most delightful Martialis, the elements of a happy life are as follows: money not worked for but inherited; land not unproductive; a fire all the year round; lawsuits never, a gown rarely worn, a mind at peace; a gentleman's strength, a healthy body; guilelessness not naive, friends of like degree, easy company, a table without frills; a night not drunken but free of cares; a marriage bed not austere and yet modest; sleep to make the dark hours short; wish to be what you are, wish nothing better; don't fear your last day, nor yet pray for it.
Martial's Latin:
Vitam quae faciant beatiorem,
iucundissime Martialis, haec sunt:
res non parta labore, sed relicta;
non ingratus ager, focus perennis;
lis numquam, toga rara, mens quieta;
vires ingenuae, salubre corpus;
prudens simplicitas, pares amici;
convictus facilis, sine arte mensa;
nox non ebria, sed soluta curis;
non tristis torus et tamen pudicus;
somnus qui faciat breves tenebras:
quod sis esse velis nihilque malis;
summum nec metuas diem nec optes.

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