Friday, August 18, 2017


Happy the Man

Joachim Du Bellay (1522-1560), "In uitae quietioris commendationem, ad I. Morellium Eberod.," Poematum Libri Quattuor (Paris: Féderic Morel, 1558), pp. 9-10 (tr. Philip Ford):
Happy is the man who lives content with his family plot,
and is not always greedily after fearful riches.
This man is kept free from countless dangers
by safe repose; he quietly tends his rich fields.
He is not terrified by the nightmares of the stupid mob,        5
nor the stern ferryman or three-headed Dog,
but, with pure hands, approaches the holy altars,
and bends the Gods, favourable to his prayers.
Truly happy is he, then, and to be counted among the
Gods themselves, whom nurturing Wisdom keeps in her        10
soft bosom. Morel, she has raised you up from the idle
mob and, under her guidance, you seek the stars
with upturned gaze. She also enjoins you to seek the
origins of the vast universe and to raise your mind to
behold God. With her aid, you scorn the threats of sky,        15
land and sea, and control everything with your mighty
mind. Yet your concern is not to rest in idle shade,
or to surrender your heart to flabby sloth.
But since you take on all the duties of civil life
and no aspect is neglected in your functions,        20
you arrange your life to trust nothing to fickle
luck, or to let Fate control your affairs,
just like one who, from the safety of the shore,
looks out on a ship tossed about over the Ocean,
or untroubled looks down on flames from on high,        25
or from a cliff on the rush of raging waters.
Add to this sweet children and a modest wife,
and a home that everyone would rejoice to have.
Why recall the luxury and elegance of the furnishings,
your simple way of life, your faultless taste?        30
Dorat himself will admit how open your home is
to the Muses, he who plucks learned songs on his
golden lyre, so that our century rivals ancient times
equally in the Latin and Greek Muses, and grave
Ronsard, protected by a mighty champion,        35
who frees him at last from a long-standing grudge.
In short, your life is such that, though the Gods have
given you all a wise and sane man needs, no one
envies you and, welcomed by high and low,
you can rival mighty kings.        40
Alas, now, in exile, I am driven from my home
shores, totally unable to enjoy so sweet a life.

Foelix, qui patrio uiuit contentus agello,
    Nec timidas captat semper auarus opes.
Hunc, hunc tuta quies ereptum mille periclis
    Detinet; hic tacitus rura beata colit.
Non illum stulti terrent insomnia uulgi,        5
    Nauita nec tristis, tergeminusue Canis:
Sed puris manibus sanctas accedit ad aras,
    Et flectit facileis in sua uota Deos:
Vere igitur foelix, Diis & numerandus in ipsis,
    Quem Sophia in molli detinet alma sinu.        10
Haec te, Morelli, populo subduxit inerti,
    Hac duce sublimi sidera fronte petis.
Haec te eadem immensi causas perquirere mundi
    Iussit, & erecta cernere mente Deum.
Hac fretus caelique minas, terraeque marisque        15
    Despicis, & magno cuncta domas animo.
Nec tamen hoc studium est, uacua requiescere in umbra,
    Tradere uel molli pectora desidiae:
Sed cum cuncta obeas ciuilis munera uitae,
    Nec pars ulla tuo cesset in officio,        20
Sic uitam instituis, dubiae nil credere sorti,
    Fortunam aut rebus praeposuisse tuis.
Non aliter, tuto quam qui de littore puppim
    Iactari toto prospicit Oceano:
Aut flammam e specula securus despicit alta,        25
    Aut cursum e summa rupe furentis aquae.
Huc dulces nati accedunt, coniuxque pudica,
    Et quam quisque sibi gaudeat esse domum.
Qui memorem quam lauta tibi, quam munda supellex,
    Quam cultus simplex, & sine labe decor?        30
Nam tua quam pateat Musis domus, ipse fatetur,
    Qui ferit aurata carmina docta lyra:
Auratus Latiis pariter Graiisque Camoenis
    Nostra aequans priscis secula temporibus,
Ronsardusque grauis, magno qui vindice tutus        35
    A ueteri tandem se asserit inuidia.
Denique sic uita est, ut cum tibi praestiterint Dii,
    Prudenti, & sano quod satis esse potest,
Inuideat nullus, summis sed gratus, & imis
    Aequalis magnis Regibus esse queas.        40
Hei mihi, quod patriis dum nunc agor exul ab oris,
    Tam dulci uita non licet usque frui.

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