OLD POLISH ON-LINE
E Y E
T H E
JAN KOCHANOWSKI - THE MUSE
I sing to myself and the Muses!
Who on earth
Would like to please his heart with my melodious airs?
Who wouldn't rather use this time to look after gain,
Grasping small change everywhere, perhaps not in vain.
For what profit from poems besides hollow ring?
But he who has money, has hold of everything
His is power, his are laws, his are offices;
He is handsome, well-spoken, he takes best places.
It is not strange that people chase after gold hence,
While the poet, sans listeners, plays behind the fence,
Competing with crickets, which over meadow grounds
Bid welcome to the warm summer with their loud rounds.
And yet I have this hope that many years away
My wakeful nights will not be left without repay;
And what the present time takes while I still live by,
Later age will richly reward after I die.
For fair Latona's son
foresaw it long ago
That the ashes of my bones would not be laid low.
Translated by Michael J. Mikoś
Steeped in the classical literary tradition and conscious of his artistic vocation, Kochanowski wrote
with an eye to posterity, as he believed that future generations of readers would appreciate his poetry. He was particularly inspired by Horace's ode
, in which the Roman poet claimed that he had created with his poetry a monument more lasting than bronze. More than two centuries after Kochanowski's death, the theme of the immortality of poetry gained great popularity among Romantic poets in England, Poland, and Russia.
Apollo, the son of beautiful Latona, was the Greek, in later times the Roman, god of prophecy, poetry, music, and sunlight.