Aspicis ut densas ponant arbusta coronas
et linquant virides vitis et herba comas,
arida purpurei fugiant violaria flores,
horreat elapsis aspera spina rosis,
cernis et ut nudi iaceant sine gramine campi,
quos florum quondam pinxerat ampla Venus.
pro placidis Zephiris audis Aquilona frementem,
audis nymbriferi flamina saeva Nothi.
nec solitum placidus blanditur in aethere Phoebus,
pendet in oceanas quin mage pronus aquas,
succedentis ubi brumae vice labitur aestas
tristeque sorte venit vere cadente gelu.
sic, sic flos aevi, sic, dulcis amice, iuventus,
heu, properante cadit irreparata pede.
forma perit, pereunt agiles in corpore vires,
et subito ingenii visque calorque cadit.
tristior inde ruit ac plena doloribus aetas,
inde subit propero curva senecta pede.
haec tibi canitie est flavos, formose, capillos
sparsura et frontem findet amara tuam.
candida deformi pallore tibi induet ora,
et rosa purpureis excidet ista genis.
iamque abient numquam redeuntia gaudia vitae,
succedent quorum morsque laborque locis.
ergo ferox dum Parca sinet, patiantur et anni,
dum vireat vicibus laeta iuventa suis,
utamur, ne frustra abeat torpentibus, aevo,
carpamus primes, dulcis amice, dies.
(Erasmus, Elegia de mutabilitate temporum ad amicum)
You see how the trees have put off their thick-
leafed crowns and the vines and the meadows
have lost their green tresses, how the crimson
flowers have fled from the arid violet beds and
the harsh thorns bristle now that the roses
have fallen away. And you perceive how the
fields lie bare of grass, where once Venus had
bountifully bedecked them with flowers.
Instead of gentle western winds, you hear the
raging wind from the north, you hear the
savage blasts of the rain-laden wind from the
south. Nor does mild Phoebus smile as usual
in the sky, but rather he leans down low
toward the waters of the ocean, now that
summer slips away and winter follows in turn
and melancholy frosts, after the end of spring,
have taken their allotted place.
Just so, my sweet friend, just so the flower of
our lifetime, youth, hastens away, alas, and
fails, never to be recovered. Beauty dies, the
nimble strength of the body dies, and suddenly
the force and vitality of the mind fail. Then
age, sad and full of griefs, rushes upon us;
then crook-backed old age steals upon us all
too swiftly. Beautiful lad, she will sprinkle your
yellow locks with gray; she will bitterly plough
furrows in your brow. She will cast an ugly
pallor over the fair white of your face, and
those roses will depart from your ruddy
cheeks. The joys of life are already about to go
away, never to return, and their places will be
taken by hardship and death.
Therefore, while the fierce goddess of fate
still permits it, while the years still allow it,
while youth rejoices and flourishes in its own
season, let us make use of this time in our
lives, lest we lose it in vain through our own
lethargy. Let us seize, sweet friend, the days of
(tr. Clarence H. Miller)