Friday, February 19, 2016



Petrarch (1304-1374), Secretum, from Dialogue 2 (Augustine speaking; tr. William H. Draper):
Behold him naked and unformed, born in wailings and tears, comforted with a few drops of milk, trembling and crawling, needing the hand of another, fed and clothed from the beasts of the field, his body feeble, his spirit restless, subject to all kinds of sickness, the prey of passions innumerable, devoid of reason, joyful to-day, to-morrow sorrowful, in both full of agitation, incapable of mastering himself, unable to restrain his appetite, ignorant of what things are useful to him and in what proportion, knowing not how to control himself in meat or drink, forced with great labour to gain the food that other creatures find ready at their need, made dull with sleep, swollen with food, stupefied with drink, emaciated with watching, famished with hunger, parched with thirst, at once greedy and timid, disgusted with what he has, longing after what he has lost, discontented alike with past, present and future, full of pride in his misery, and aware of his frailty, baser than the vilest worms, his life is short, his days uncertain, his fate inevitable, since Death in a thousand forms is waiting for him at last.

aspice nudum et informem inter vagitus et lacrimas nascentem, exiguo lacte solandum, tremulum atque reptantem, opis indigum aliene, quem muta pascunt animalia et vestiunt; caduci corporis, animi inquieti, morbis obsessum variis, subiectum passionibus innumeris, consilii inopem, alterna letitia et tristitia fluctuantem, impotentem arbitrii, appetitus cohibere nescium; quid quantumve sibi expediat, quis cibo potuique modus ignorantem; cui alimenta corporis, ceteris animalibus in aperto posita, multo labore conquerenda sunt; quem somnus inflat, cibus distendit, potus precipitat, vigilie extenuant, fames contrahit, sitis arefacit; avidum timidumque, fastidientem possessa, perdita deplorantem et presentibus simul et preteritis et futuris anxium; superbientem inter miserias suas et fragilitatis sibi conscium; vilissimis vermibus imparem, vite brevis, etatis ambigue, fati inevitabilis, ac mille generibus mortis expositum.

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