Boethiustr. James Harpur

Carmina qui quondam studio florente peregi,
flebilis heu maestos cogor inire modos.
Ecce mihi lacerae dictant scribenda Camenae
et ueris elegi fletibus ora rigant.

Has saltem nullus potuit peruincere terror,
ne nostrum comites prosequerentur iter.
Gloria felicis olim uiridisque iuuentae,
solantur maesti nunc mea fata senis.

Uenit enim properata malis inopina senectus
et dolor aetatem iussit inesse suam.
Intempestiui funduntur uertice cani
et tremit effeto corpore laxa cutis.

Mors hominum felix, quae se nec dulcibus annis
inserit et maestis saepe uocata uenit.
Eheu, quam surda miseros auertitur aure
et flentes oculos claudere saeua negat!

Dum leuibus male fida bonis fortuna faueret
paene caput tristis merserat hora meum;
nunc quia fallacem mutauit nubila uultum
protrahit ingratas impia uita moras.

Quid me felicem totiens iactastis, amici?
Qui cecidit, stabili non erat ille gradu.

I used to relish scribbling poetry.
But now Iím stuck with dirges born of sadness.
Look how the Muses, dishevelled by distress,
prompt elegies that only make me cry.

At least they werenít put off by any fears
from being my companions on this journey.
They were the best thing of my salad days:
now they console me in my sad last years.

A sudden spate of suffering and Iím old.
Decrepit from the tyrannous rule of anguish;
my hairís a snowdrift, prematurely white,
and flesh flaps off my clapped-out bones in folds.

Deathís welcome when it passes by your prime
arriving when youíre begging for release.
But Death has turned a deaf ear to my prayers,
wonít close my red-rimmed eyes a final time.

When flighty Fortune brought me passing pleasure
I nearly came to grief at one dark point;
now that her misty scheming face has changed,
my blasted life drags on at painful leisure.

Why did my friends harp on about my luck?
I stood on shaky ground: I came unstuck.

Published in PN Review, vol. 34 no. 1

Transl. Copyright © James Harpur 2007

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