Joachim du Bellay (1525-1560)

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To His Friend in Elysium

So long you wandered on the dusky plain,
Where flit the shadows with their endless cry,
You reach the shore where all the world goes by,
You leave the strife, the slavery, the pain;
But we, but we, the mortals that remain
In vain stretch hands; for Charon sullenly
Drives us afar, we may not come anigh
Till that last mystic obolus we gain.
But you are happy in the quiet place,
And with the learned lovers of old days,
And with your love, you wander evermore
In the dim woods, and drink forgetfulness
Of us your friends, a weary crowd that press
About the gate, or labor at the oar.

Translated by Andrew Lang.

A Sonnet to Heavenly Beauty

If this our little life is but a day
In the Eternal,--if the years in vain
Toil after hours that never come again,--
If everything that hath been must decay,
Why dreamest thou of joys that pass away,
My soul, that my sad body doth restrain?
Why of the moment's pleasure art thou fain?
Nay, thou hast wings,--nay, seek another stay.
There is the joy where to each soul aspires,
And there the rest that all the world desires,
And there is love, and peace, and gracious mirth;
And there in the most highest heavens shalt thou
Behold the Very Beauty, whereof now
Thou worshipest the shadow upon earth.

Translated by Andrew Lang.