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JAN KOCHANOWSKI - SONG I, 9
SONG 9, BOOK I
We want to make merry.
Tell your men to hurry,
Let them, lord, bring good wine to the table
And play the lute or the golden fiddle.
Who is so wise to guess
What tomorrow offers?
God alone knows it and laughs from heaven,
When man worries more than it is prudent.
Use your wealth with prudence.
It all starts where it ends,
Let Fortune have sway: if it wants kindly,
If it wants otherwise-it holds mastery.
It's easy for Fortune:
One who stands, has fallen;
And the one who was just under its foot,
Behold him now, down at us he will look.
All will strangely tangle
In this world, so humble:
He who'd like to grasp all things with his mind,
Will die before the answer he will find.
In vain the mortal cares
For these timeless affairs:
He will not escape, that much he should know,
What God had ordained for him long ago.
No one will ever err,
Who his mind will prepare,
So he can endure grief and happiness:
First, bravely bear, second, without smugness.
I praise changeless good fate;
But if it goes away,
I give up all, wrap myself in goodness
And wish for decent means without excess.
'Tis not my way, when gales
Strike suddenly the sails,
To lie prostrate and win over the saints,
So that the avaricious water gains
No goods from Turkish stocks,
When they fall between rocks.
I, my heart free from care and full of trust,
Will sail a small boat through a stormy gust.
Translated by Michael J. Mikoś
Imported goods from Turkey were considered luxury items in Poland.