Thursday, November 29, 2012

Islands in the dark

Just today I was introduced to this tidbit of philosophical poetry from the 6th century. It struck me as interesting how the concepts of things such as good and evil are presented as elements of a pattern that might be thought of as following some set of physical laws.   Even after two hundred years of the dark ages had perverted civilization in Europe the beauty derived from a shadow of the concept of a deistic god provoked verse.  Europe would remain in the dark ages for another eight hundred years before the ideas in this fragment of poetry could openly bear fruit.

  From Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius's Consolatio Philosophiae written in the year 524.  Translated by H.F Stewart and E. K. Rand in 1918. 

Consolatio Philosophiae
Si uis celsi iura tonantis
Pura sollers cernere mente,
Aspice summi culmina caeli.
Illic iusto foedere rerum
Veterem seruant sidera pacem.                                            
Non sol rutilo concitus igne
Gelidum Phoebes impedit axem
Nec quae summo uertice mundi
Flectit rapidos Vrsa meatus.
Numquam occiduo lota profundo                                            
Cetera cernens sidera mergi
Cupit oceano tingere flammas.
Semper uicibus temporis aequis
Vesper seras nuntiat umbras
Reuehitque diem Lucifer almum.                                           
Sic aeternos reficit cursus
Alternus amor, sic astrigeris
Bellum discors exulat oris.
Haec concordia temperat aequis
Elementa modis, ut pugnantia                                            
Vicibus cedant umida siccis
Iungantque fidem frigora flammis
Pendulus ignis surgat in altum
Terraeque graues pondere sidant.
Isdem causis uere tepenti                                              
Spirat florifer annus odores,
Aestas Cererem feruida siccat,
Remeat pomis grauis autumnus,
Hiemem defluus inrigat imber.
Haec temperies alit ac profert                                           
Quidquid uitam spirat in orbe.
Eadem rapiens condit et aufert
Obitu mergens orta supremo.
      If thou would'st see
    God's laws with purest mind,
    Thy sight on heaven must fixéd be,
  Whose settled course the stars in peace doth bind.
      The sun's bright fire
    Stops not his sister's team,
    Nor doth the northern bear desire
  Within the ocean's wave to hide her beam.
      Though she behold
    The other stars there couching,
    Yet she uncessantly is rolled
  About high heaven, the ocean never touching.
      The evening light
    With certain course doth show
    The coming of the shady night,
  And Lucifer before the day doth go.
      This mutual love
    Courses eternal makes,
    And from the starry spheres above
  All cause of war and dangerous discord takes.
      This sweet consent
    In equal bands doth tie
    The nature of each element,
  So that the moist things yield unto the dry,
      The piercing cold
    With flames doth friendship keep,
    The trembling fire the highest place doth hold,
  And the gross earth sinks down into the deep.
      The flowery year
    Breathes odours in the spring
    The scorching summer corn doth bear,
  The autumn fruit from laden trees doth bring.
      The falling rain
    Doth winter's moisture give.
    These rules thus nourish and maintain
  All creatures which we see on earth to live. 

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