Sonnet [read at 3AM]
My being turns to smoke in the mad strife
Of passions which have whirled me in their wake.
How miserably blind was I to take
This human span for almost-endless life.
What countless suns the boastful fancy forges
To gild this false existence as it flows,
But now my slave-like nature undergoes
The blasting havoc of a life of orgies.
Pleasures, my tyrant cronies, in confusion,
Hurling you to the gulf of disillusion,
My thirsty soul no longer can be pent.
Before my light fails, grant, my God! that I,
(One moment saving what in years I spent),
Who knew not how to live, learn how to die!
—Manuel Barbosa du Bocage (1765-1805), trans. Roy Campbell from the Portuguese
This poem features the theme of philosophy as a way of life briefly mentioned in an earlier post. We’ll come back to the topic some other time.