The Consolation of Philosophy


Blest he whose feet have stood

Beside the fount of good;

Blest he whose will could break

Earth's chains for wisdom's sake!

The Thracian bard, 'tis said,

Mourned his dear consort dead;

To hear the plaintive strain

The woods moved in his train,

And the stream ceased to flow,

Held by so soft a woe;

The deer without dismay

Beside the lion lay;

The hound, by song subdued,

No more the hare pursued,

But the pang unassuaged

In his own bosom raged.

The music that could calm

All else brought him no balm.

Chiding the powers immortal,

He came unto Hell's portal;

There breathed all tender things

Upon his sounding strings,

Each rhapsody high-wrought

His goddess-mother taught--

All he from grief could borrow

And love redoubling sorrow,

Till, as the echoes waken,

All Taenarus is shaken;

Whilst he to ruth persuades

The monarch of the shades

With dulcet prayer. Spell-bound,

The triple-headed hound

At sounds so strangely sweet

Falls crouching at his feet.

The dread Avengers, too,

That guilty minds pursue

With ever-haunting fears,

Are all dissolved in tears.

Ixion, on his wheel,

A respite brief doth feel;

For, lo! the wheel stands still.

And, while those sad notes thrill,

Thirst-maddened Tantalus

Listens, oblivious

Of the stream's mockery

And his long agony.

The vulture, too, doth spare

Some little while to tear

At Tityus' rent side,

Sated and pacified.

At length the shadowy king,

His sorrows pitying,

'He hath prevailed!' cried;

'We give him back his bride!

To him she shall belong,

As guerdon of his song.

One sole condition yet

Upon the boon is set:

Let him not turn his eyes

To view his hard-won prize,

Till they securely pass

The gates of Hell.' Alas!

What law can lovers move?

A higher law is love!

For Orpheus--woe is me!--

On his Eurydice--

Day's threshold all but won--

Looked, lost, and was undone!

Ye who the light pursue,

This story is for you,

Who seek to find a way

Unto the clearer day.

If on the darkness past

One backward look ye cast,

Your weak and wandering eyes

Have lost the matchless prize.