An Old Man

It’s the Same Everywhere

It’s the Same Everywhere

An old Man,
Is loath to bid the world goodnight, hee knowes the grave is a long sleepe, and therefore would sit up as long as hee could. His soule has long dwelt in a ruinous tenement, and yet is so unwilling to leave it that it could be content to sue the body for reparitions. He lives now to be but a burthen to his friends, as age is to him, and yet his thoughts are as farre from death as he is nigh it. Howsoever time bee a continued motion, yet the Dyall of his age stands still at 50, that’s his age for ten yeares afterward, and love’s such a friend that like a flattering glasse tels him hee seemes farre younger. His memory is full of the actions of his youth, which hee often historifies to others in tedious tales, and thinks they should please others because himselfe. His discourses are full of parenthesis, and his wordes fall from him as slowly as water from an Alimbecke; drop by drop. He loves the chimney corner and his chaire which he brags was his grandfathers, from whence he secures the cubboard from the Catts and Dogges, or the milke from running over, and is onely good to build up the architecture of a seacole fyre by applying each circumstant cynder. When his naturall powers are all impotencyes, hee marries a young wench for warmth sake, and when hee dyes, makes her an estate durante viduitate onely for widowhood. At talke hee commonly uses some proverbiall verses gathered perhaps from cheese-trenchers or Schola Salerna, which he makes as applyable, as a mountebank plasters to all purposes, all occasions. Hee cals often to the Servingman for a cup of Sacke, and to that end stiles him friend; and wonders much that new wine should not bee put in old bottles. Though the proverbe be, once a man and twice a childe, yet he hopes from his second childhood to runne backe into his teenes, and so bee twice a man too. Lastly, hee’s a candle burnt to the snuffe, the ruines onely of a man, whose soule is but the salt of his body to keepe it from stincking, and can scarcely performe that too.—Wye Saltonstall, Picturae Loquentes (1635)

“The World Is Change”

Luis de Camõens (1524-1580)

Luis de Camõens (1524-1580)

Once again I owe a debt of gratitude to Laudator Temporis Acti, certainly one of my favorite websites of late. It seems that no one pays much attention to Portuguese literature any more, or to Luis Vaz de Camõens, who, as author of the Lusiads, is considered perhaps her greatest poet. Below is his sonnet LVII entitled “Omnia Mutantur” (“Everything Changes”). First, here is the English translation by William Baer:

Time changes, and our desires change. What we
believe—even what we are—is ever-
changing. The world is change, which forever
takes on new qualities. And constantly,
we see the new and the novel overturning
the past, unexpectedly, while we retain
from evil, nothing but its terrible pain,
from good (if there’s been any), only the yearning.
Time covers the ground with her cloak of green
where, once, there was freezing snow—and rearranges
my sweetest songs to sad laments. Yet even more
astonishing is yet another unseen
change within all these endless changes:
that for me, nothing ever changes anymore.

And now, for all you Portuguese and Brazilians out there, here it is in the original Portuguese:

Mudam-se os tempos, mudam-se as vontades,
muda-se o ser, muda-se a confiança;
todo o mundo he composto de mudança,
tomando sempre novas qualidades.
Continuamente vemos novidades,
differentes em tudo da esperança;
do mal ficam as mágoas na lembrança,
e do bem (se algum houve) as saüdades.
O tempo cobre o chão de verde manto,
que já coberto foi de neve fria,
e em mi converte em choro o doce canto.
E, afora este mudar-se cada dia,
outra mudança faz de mor espanto:
que não se muda já como soía.

I cannot pretend to understand the Portuguese, but I dearly love to hear the language spoken. It is always music to my ears.