Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Set Free Your Minds

Manilius, Astronomica 4.1-13 (tr. G.P. Goold):
Oh, why do we spend the years of our lives in worry, tormenting ourselves with fears and senseless desires; grown old before our time with anxieties which never end; forfeiting length of days by our very quest for it; setting no limit to our wishes, so that their fulfilment leaves us still unblest, but ever playing the part of men who mean to live but never do? Everyone is the poorer for his possessions because he looks for more: none counts his blessings, but only lusts for what he lacks. Though nature needs only modest requirements, we build higher and higher the peak from which to fall, and purchase luxury with our gains, and with love of luxury the fear of dispossession, until the greatest boon that wealth can confer is the squandering of itself. So set free your minds, o mortals, and rid your lives of all this vain complaint!

Quid tam sollicitis vitam consumimus annis
torquemurque metu caecaque cupidine rerum
aeternisque senes curis, dum quaerimus, aevum
perdimus et nullo votorum fine beati
victuros agimus semper nec vivimus umquam,        5
pauperiorque bonis quisque est, quia plura requirit
nec quod habet numerat, tantum quod non habet optat,
cumque sibi parvos usus natura reposcat
materiam struimus magnae per vota ruinae
luxuriamque lucris emimus luxuque rapinas,        10
et summum census pretium est effundere censum?
solvite, mortales, animos curasque levate
totque supervacuis vitam deplete querellis.
The same, in the translation of Thomas Creech:
Why should our Time run out in useless years,
Of anxious Troubles, and tormenting Fears?
With no Success, and no Advantage crown'd,
Why should we still tread th'unfinisht Round?
Grown grey in Cares, pursue the senseless strife,
And seeking how to Live, consume a Life?
The more we have, the meaner is our Store,
The unenjoying craving Wretch is Poor:
But Heaven is kind, with bounteous Hand it grants
A fit supply for Nature's sober wants:
She asks not much, yet Men press blindly on,
And heap up more, to be the more undone:
By Luxury, they Rapine's force maintain;
What that scrapes up, flows out in Luxury again.
And to be squander'd, or to raise debate,
Is the great only use of an Estate.
Vain Man, forbear; of Cares, unload thy Mind;
Forget thy Hopes, and give thy Fears to Wind.

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