Monday, 2 May 2011

A third poem by the German early-baroque poet Theobald Hock

After experience comes knowledge

I who when young have sadly
Spent many early years
On sampling all too gladly
Love’s joys and bitter tears,
No trial left in arrears,

I who the very nature
And usages of love
Her virtue and her stature
Have felt within me move
Raw bliss and woe have proved,

I who have ne’er tried fleeing
Love’s battle and her school,
Have grasped her inner being,
How Venus and her rule
Can blow one hot and cool,

I who have writ empassioned
Of love and love’s sweet dart,
And well-turned rhymes have fashioned
On woman’s loving art
Of which I’ve been a part,

I who with view impartial
Love’s false, unbridled ways
Her jealousy so martial,
Distrust and grief’s dismay,
Have gazed at day by day,

Must now of worldly spite, of
Its faithlessness and worse,
Its noise and wealth’s sad blight, of
Its arrant folly’s curse
Write poems hard and terse.

Must now deride at leisure
From morning until noon,
A world of such strange measure,
Its form so warped and skewn
Which disappears so soon.

Now will I talk of warfare
And life at court recall,
Of housekeeping and childcare
Of masters and servants all
Now I’ve the time withal.

Show no one fear or favour,
Seek truth both pure and clear,
From honesty ne’er waver
Live justly without fear
And, blessed, all things revere.

Though Momus will but chatter
And say: What’s that to me!
I’m quite another matter
To blame myself would be
The sole reward I see.

The one who feels I’m drawing
Too close should mend his ways!
Law honest men finds boring,
The cat but on mice preys,
Fate orders all that strays.

The one who shuns good tidings
Had better block his ears!
Like charmed snakes cease their slidings
Rest will the honest cheer
Should the right time appear.

And no one can live blameless
Be just to all, I own.
Both high and low are shameless,
their godlessness well-known:
Do good, fear God alone!

Not even God Almighty
Could all mankind be nigh,
Not while on earth, and slightly
Less often can he try,
Now that he reigns on high.

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