Sunday, July 17, 2005

Boethius: Poems on happiness

The Consolation of Philosophy

Philosophy speaks:


The man who wants to sow a fertile field must first clear the ground of brush, then cut out the ferns and brambles with his sharp hook, so that new grain may grown abundantly.

Honey is sweeter to the taste if the mouth has first tried bitter flavors. Stars shine more brightly after Notus has stopped his rainy blasts. Only after Hesperas has driven away the darkness does day drive forward his splendid horses.

Just so, by first recognizing false goods, you begin to escape the burden of their influence; then afterwards true goods may gain possession of your spirit.


The man who wishes to be powerful must check his desires; he must not permit himself to be overcome by lust, or submit to its foul reins.

For though your rule extends so far that India trembles before you and Ultima Thule serves you, if you cannot withstand [darkness], and live without wretched moaning, you have no power.


The whole race of men on this earth springs from one stock. There is one Father of all things; One alone provides for all. He gave Phoebus his rays, the moon its horns. To earth He gave men; to the sky, the stars. He clothed with bodies the souls He brought from heaven.

Thus all [humans] come from noble origin. Why then boast of your ancestors? If you consider your beginning, and God your Maker, no one is base unless he deserts his birthright and makes himself a slave to vice.


Prayer: Grant, O Father, that my mind may rise to Thy sacred throne. Let it see the fountain of good; let it find light, so that the clear light of my soul may fix itself in Thee. Burn off the fogs and clouds of earth and shine through in Thy splendor. For Thou art the serenity, the tranquil peace of virtuous [humans]: The sight of Thee is beginning and end; One guide, leader, path and goal.


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