Long Life Not To Be Desired

            WHO, loving life, hath sought
            To outrun the appointed span,
            Shall be arraigned before my thought
            For an infatuate man.
            Since the added years entail
            Much that is bitter; — joy
            Flies out of ken, desire doth fail,
            The wished-for moments cloy.
            But when the troublous life,
            Be it less or more, is past,
            With power to end the strife
            Comes rescuing Death at last.
            Lo! the dark bridegroom waits! No festal choir
            Shall grace his destined hour, no dance, no lyre!
            Far best were ne’er to be;
            But, once he hath seen the day,
            Next best by far for each to flee
            As swiftly as each may,
            Yonder from whence he came;
            For let but Youth be there
            With her light fooleries, who shall name
            The unnumbered brood of Care?
            No trial spared, no fall!
            Feuds, battles, murders, rage,
            Envy, and last of all,
            Despised, dim, friendless age!
            Ay, there all evils, crowded in one room.
            Each at his worst of ill, augments of gloom.
            Such lot is mine, and round this man of woe,
            As some gray headland of a northward shore
            Bears buffets of all wintry winds that blow,
            Fresh storms of Fate are bursting evermore
            In thunderous billows, borne
            Some from the waning light,
            Some through mid-noon, some from the rising morn,
            Some from the stars of Night.

This English translation, by Lewis Campbell, of ‘Long Life Not to be Desired’ is reprinted from Greek Poets in English Verse. Ed. William Hyde Appleton. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1893.