A vizier in Elysian bliss;
No higher joy could be or seem,
Or purer, than was ever his.
Elsewhere was dream'd of by the same
A wretched hermit wrapp'd in flame,
Whose lot e'en touch'd, so pain'd was he,
The partners of his misery.
Was Minos mock'd? or had these ghosts,
By some mistake, exchanged their posts?
Surprise at this the vision broke;
The dreamer suddenly awoke.
Some mystery suspecting in it,
He got a wise one to explain it.
Replied the sage interpreter,
'Let not the thing a marvel seem:
There is a meaning in your dream:
If I have aught of knowledge, sir,
It covers counsel from the gods.
While tenanting these clay abodes,
This vizier sometimes gladly sought
The solitude that favours thought;
Whereas, the hermit, in his cot,
Had longings for a vizier's lot.'
To this interpretation dared I add,
The love of solitude I would inspire.
It satisfies the heart's desire
With unencumber'd gifts and glad--
Heaven-planted joys, of stingless sweet,
Aye springing up beneath our feet.
O Solitude! whose secret charms I know--
Retreats that I have loved--when shall I go
To taste, far from a world of din and noise,
Your shades so fresh, where silence has a voice?
When shall their soothing gloom my refuge be?
When shall the sacred Nine, from courts afar,
And cities with all solitude at war,
Engross entire, and teach their votary
The stealthy movements of the spangled nights,
The names and virtues of those errant lights
Which rule o'er human character and fate?
Or, if not born to purposes so great,
The streams, at least, shall win my heartfelt thanks,
While, in my verse, I paint their flowery banks.
Fate shall not weave my life with golden thread,
Nor, 'neath rich fret-work, on a purple bed,
Shall I repose, full late, my care-worn head.
But will my sleep be less a treasure?
Less deep, thereby, and full of pleasure?
I vow it, sweet and gentle as the dew,
Within those deserts sacrifices new;
And when the time shall come to yield my breath,
Without remorse I'll join the ranks of Death.
Source: Wright's translation of La Fontaine, Fable 11.4.
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(not in Mille) (not in Perry)