The following is my translation of a delightful poem that appears in La Fontaine’s The Loves of Cupid and Psyche:
O sweet Delight, without which, from our childhood days,
Living and dying would become for us equals;
Universal magnet of all the animals,
Whom you know to attract in such powerful ways!
For you everything moves here below.
For you we run after sorrow,
When you, when your charms draw us in.
He is neither prince, nor captain,
Nor minister of state, nor soldier, nor subject,
Who lacks you as his sole object.
We nourish other things if, as fruit of our poise,
Our ears are left uncharmed, bereft of scrumptious noise.
If this sound did not make us quiver with pleasure,
Would we sing even one measure?
That which one calls glory in magnificent names,
That which served as the prize in the Olympic Games,
Truly belongs to none but you, godly Delight.
And is pleasure of sense counted as something slight?
Why should Flora’s gifts dot the lawn?
Why exist sunsets and the Dawn,
And Pomona’s delicate fruit,
Bacchus, who gives good meals their root,
The woods, the waters, the prairies,
These mothers of sweet reveries?
So many dazzling arts, all of them your offspring?
Why the Chlorises, their triumphant charms, their spring,
Except to maintain your commerce?
I, innocent, hear this thought: a certain rigor
Which one opts to exert at first
Will later prove pleasure’s trigger.
Delight, Delight, who long ago used to control
Greece’s most noble mind and soul,
Disdain me not, come to lodge at my home with me,
And busy you will always be.
I adore games, romance, reading, and art,
Town and country, indeed all else; there is nothing
Not good to me, all-governing,
Even to the dim pleasure of a brooding heart.
Come, then; and do you wish to know, O sweet Delight,
The true measure of this good, the one most fitting?
No less will suit me than a century, counted right;
Thirty years are not worth living.