When the goldfinch, in his airy confection,
Suddenly gets angry, begins to quake,
His spite sets off his scholar’s robes,
Shows to advantage his cute black cap.
And he slanders the hundred bars,
Curses the sticks and perches of his prison—
And the world’s turned completely inside out,
And surely there’s a forest Salamanca
For birds so smart, so disobedient.
—trans. Andrew Davis
Here are the essentials of a happy life,
my dear friend: money not worked for,
but inherited; some land not unproductive;
a hearth fire always going; law suits never;
the toga rarely worn; a calm mind;
a gentleman’s strong and healthy body;
circumspect candor, friends who are your equals;
relaxed dinner parties, a simple table,
nights not drunken, but free from anxieties;
a marriage bed not prudish, and yet modest;
plenty of sleep to make the dark hours short. Wish
to be what you are, and prefer nothing more.
Don’t fear your last day, or hope for it either.
Vitam quae faciant beatiorem,
Iucundissime Martialis, haec sunt:
Res non parta labore, sed relicta;
Non ingratus ager, focus perennis;
Lis numquam, toga rara, mens quieta;
Vires ingenuae, salubre corpus;
Prudens simplicitas, pares amici;
Convictus facilis, sine arte mensa;
Nox non ebria, sed soluta curis;
Non tristis torus, et tamen pudicus;
Somnus, qui faciat breves tenebras:
Quod sis, esse velis nihilque malis;
Summum nec metuas diem nec optes.