We are now wholly – nay more than wholly – devastated!
The band of presumptuous nations, the blaring trumpet,
the sword greasy with blood, the thundering cannon
have consumed everyone’s sweat and industry and provisions.
The towers are on fire, the church is cast down, the town hall lies in ruins,
the strong are maimed, the virgins raped,
and wherever we look there is [nothing but] fire,
plague, and death that pierces heart and mind.
Here through the bulwarks and the town ever-fresh blood is running.
Three times six years ago the water of our rivers
slowly found its way past the corpses that almost blocked it;
but I will say nothing of what is worse than death itself,
more dreadful than the plague and fire and famine –
that so many have been despoiled of the treasure of the soul.
Be undismayed in spite of everything;
do not give up, despite everything; give way to no twist of fortune;
stand above envy; be content with yourself and think it no disaster
even if fortune, place, and time have conspired against you.
What saddens or refreshes you,
think it chosen for you; accept your fate, regret nothing,
do what must be done and before you are told to do it.
What you can hope for may happen any day.
What is it that we lament, or that we praise?
Each man is his own fortune and misfortune.
Look round at everything – all this is within you;
leave your empty delusion, and, before you go any farther, go back into yourself.
The man who is master of himself and can control himself
has the wide world and what is in it at his feet.
Now night is coming on,
cattle and people are released,
desired rest begins,
my sorrow approaches.
The moonlight and the little golden stars
everything all round is happy;
only I am in sadness.
Two are lacking everywhere
in the number of the beautiful stars;
the two stars I mean are
the dear eyes of my beloved.
The moon holds no charms for me,
the light of the stars is dark since
Asteris, my firmament,
has turned away from me.
But when she,
the beauty of my sun,
approaches me again,
I prefer neither star nor moon to shine.
O Beloved, let us hurry,
for time is getting short;
delay will harm
both of us.
The gifts of noble beauty
flee step by step,
and everything we have
must pass away.
The splendor of your
cheeks will pale,
your hair will be grey,
the flash of your eyes will fade,
the flame of your passion
will turn to ice;
your dear coral mouth
will lose its shape,
your hands will shrink
and you will be old.
So let us enjoy now
the fruit of youth
before we have to follow
the flight of the years.
If you love yourself,
love me too;
give me so that when you give
I lose something too.
Oh, how can you distress me
so much, and call me flighty?
I know that Love confesses me constant
rather than you, beautiful as you are!
Just as the perfection of your person
is not to be compared with any other,
so the constancy of my love
cannot give way before anyone’s love and fidelity.
When I promised you to be true
I made no reservations,
and so it would be a great injustice
if your faith in me were to cool.
My heart, spirit, and mind are in you;
I live to love you;
oh, if I am not yours any longer,
then tell me to whom you have given me!
Georg Rudolf Weckherlin