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Ausiàs March
"I'm like a man who spends his life in dreams"

I'm like a man who spends his life in dreams,
whose only joy is what such folly holds,
for all my thoughts are captive to the past,
and only there for me can pleasure lie;
yet pain, I can be sure, just bides its time:
it lurks, and I will fall into its grasp.
The future holds no promise, not for me.
The best is what is over and is gone.

Call me a man enamoured of the past,
of what is nothing, and exists no more.
Memories are my solace and my joy;
but once they fade, then pain strikes sharply back.
Just so, a man might await the gallows,
with resignation comforting his soul;
then comes false news that his life wil be spared
―and they take him and hang him, unprepared.

If only God would paralyse my brain
so I could spend a lifetime lost in sleep!
A wretche he is indeed whose thoughts become
the enemy, and his own mind torment,
and every time he looks to them for joy,
he's like a woman with her screaming child:
if it should ask with poison to be fed,
she can't refuse, she has so little sense.

I had best resign myself to simple pain,
forget all hope of mixing in some joy,
and let the torment take its fatal course.
Alas!, each time my dreams I set aside,
so suffering comes to take the place of joy;
a brief respite, and then redoubled pain:
the tasty morsel tempts the sickly man,
and then he must eat every meal in pain;

so is it for the hermit in his cave,
who over time has ceased to miss his friends
―the many that he left behind in town―
but one of them quite suddenly appears,
and all the former pleasures are recalled,
and past fills all the present once again;
the friend's farewell must usher in regret:
when good takes flight, it loudly summons pain.


Beauteous Wisdom, whenever love grows old,
then absence chumbles at it like a worm;
constancy will starve it; this, and if you'll give
no heed to what these envious tongues might say.

Translated by Robert Archer
Ausiàs March, "I'm like a man who spends his life in dreams". Ausiàs March: Verse Translations of Thirty Poems. Barcelona;Londres: Barcino;Tamesis Books, 2006.
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