Archive for December 9th, 2021

Thursday, 9 December 2021

The Calculation of Life by Jean Antoine de Baïf

Thou art aged; but recount,
Since thy early life began,
What may be the just amount
Thou shouldst number of thy span:
How much to thy debts belong,
How much when vain fancy caught thee,
How much to the giddy throng,
How much to the poor who sought thee,
How much to thy lawyer’s wiles,
How much to thy menial crew,
How much to thy lady’s smiles,
How much to thy sick-bed due,
How much for thy hours of leisure,
For thy hurrying to and fro,
How much for each idle pleasure,
If the list thy memory know.
Every wasted, misspent day,
Which regret can ne’er recall,
If all these thou tak’st away,
Thou wilt find thy age but small:
That thy years were falsely told,
And, even now, thou art not old.

From: Hunt, N. Clemmons (ed.), The Poetry of Other Lands. A Collection of Translations into English Verse of the Poetry of Other Languages, Ancient and Modern, 1883, Porter and Coates: Philadelphia, p. 322.

Date: 1576 (original in French); 1835 (translation in English)

By: Jean Antoine de Baïf (1532-1589)

Translated by: Louisa Stuart Costello (1799-1870)