The Consolation of Philosophy


Alas! in what abyss his mind

Is plunged, how wildly tossed!

Still, still towards the outer night

She sinks, her true light lost,

As oft as, lashed tumultuously

By earth-born blasts, care's waves rise high.

Yet once he ranged the open heavens,

The sun's bright pathway tracked;

Watched how the cold moon waxed and waned;

Nor rested, till there lacked

To his wide ken no star that steers

Amid the maze of circling spheres.

The causes why the blusterous winds

Vex ocean's tranquil face,

Whose hand doth turn the stable globe,

Or why his even race

From out the ruddy east the sun

Unto the western waves doth run:

What is it tempers cunningly

The placid hours of spring,

So that it blossoms with the rose

For earth's engarlanding:

Who loads the year's maturer prime

With clustered grapes in autumn time:

All this he knew--thus ever strove

Deep Nature's lore to guess.

Now, reft of reason's light, he lies,

And bonds his neck oppress;

While by the heavy load constrained,

His eyes to this dull earth are chained.


'But the time,' said she, 'calls rather for healing than for lamentation.' Then, with her eyes bent full upon me, 'Art thou that man,' she cries, 'who, erstwhile fed with the milk and reared upon the nourishment which is mine to give, had grown up to the full vigour of a manly spirit? And yet I had bestowed such armour on thee as would have proved an invincible defence, hadst thou not first cast it away. Dost thou know me? Why art thou silent? Is it shame or amazement that hath struck thee dumb? Would it were shame; but, as I see, a stupor hath seized upon thee.' Then, when she saw me not only answering nothing, but mute and utterly incapable of speech, she gently touched my breast with her hand, and said: 'There is no danger; these are the symptoms of lethargy, the usual sickness of deluded minds. For awhile he has forgotten himself; he will easily recover his memory, if only he first recognises me. And that he may do so, let me now wipe his eyes that are clouded with a mist of mortal things.' Thereat, with a fold of her robe, she dried my eyes all swimming with tears.