Boethius bewails his miserable state
'To pleasant songs my work was erstwhile given, and bright were all my
labours then; but now in tears to sad refrains am I compelled to turn. Thus
my maimed Muses guide my pen, and gloomy songs make no feigned tears bedew
my face. Then could no fear so overcome to leave me companionless upon my
way. They were the pride of my earlier bright-lived days: in my later
gloomy days they are the comfort of my fate; for hastened by unhappiness
has age come upon me without warning, and grief hath set within me the old
age of her gloom. White hairs are scattered untimely on my head, and the
skin hangs loosely from my worn-out limbs.
'Happy is that death which thrusts not itself upon men in their pleasant
years, yet comes to them at the oft-repeated cry of their sorrow. Sad is it
how death turns away from the unhappy with so deaf an ear, and will not
close, cruel, the eyes that weep. Ill is it to trust to
Fortune's fickle bounty, and while yet she smiled upon me, the hour of
gloom had well-nigh overwhelmed my head. Now has the cloud put off its
alluring face, wherefore without scruple my life drags out its wearying
'Why, O my friends, did ye so often puff me up, telling me that I was
fortunate? For he that is fallen low did never firmly stand.'
Book I, Prosa 1
While I was pondering thus in silence, and using my pen to set down so
tearful a complaint, there appeared standing over my head a woman`s form . . .
[Lady Philosophy appears to restore Boethius to mental health.]
Translated by: W.V. Cooper, J.M. Dent and Company. London, 1902.