Lament XVII

A poem by Jan Kochanowski

God hath laid his hand on me:
He hath taken all my glee,
And my spirit's emptied cup
Soon must give its life-blood up.

If the sun doth wake and rise,
If it sink in gilded skies,
All alike my heart doth ache,
Comfort it can never take.

From my eyelids there do flow
Tears, and I must weep e'en so
Ever, ever. Lord of Light,
Who can hide him from thy sight!

Though we shun the stormy sea,
Though from war's affray we flee,
Yet misfortune shows her face
Howsoe'er concealed our place.

Mine a life so far from fame
Few there were could know my name;
Evil hap and jealousy
Had no way of harming me.

But the Lord, who doth disdain
Flimsy safeguards raised by man,
Struck a blow more swift and sure
In that I was more secure.

Poor philosophy, so late
Of its power wont to prate,
Showeth its incompetence
Now that joy proceedeth hence.

Sometimes still it strives to prove
Heavy care it can remove;
But its little weight doth fail
To raise sorrow in the scale.

Idle is the foolish claim
Harm can have another name:
He who laughs when he is sad,
I should say was only mad.

Him who tries to prove our tears
Trifles, I will lend mine ears;
But my sorrow he thereby
Doth not check, but magnify.

Choice I have none, I must needs
Weep if all my spirit bleeds.
Calling it a graceless part
Only stabs anew my heart.

All such medicine, dear Lord,
Is another, sharper sword.
Who my healing would insure
Will seek out a gentler cure.

Let my tears prolong their flow.
Wisdom, I most truly know,
Hath no power to console:
Only God can make me whole.

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