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KLEMENS JANICJUSZ - ELEGY VII ABOUT MYSELF TO POSTERITY
ABOUT MYSELF TO POSTERITY
You that will think of me and wish some time
In the future to learn about my life,
Read the lines hurriedly dictated, when
was pushing me to Lethe.
High above the Żnin marsh
lies a village,
Named after the name of one Januszek
Along that route, reportedly, our kings
Traveled from Gniezno to their Prussian lands
My father turned over that soil with his plough,
A noble man in his humble station.
While he cried over the children he lost
In the fierce plague, he saw me being born
At a time of mourning; he was childless
Only for ten months. The light gleamed for me
The fourth day past the Ides of November
On Sunday, at noon, on the same day, when
Our king was taking off the mourning clothes
He'd worn a year after his spouse's death,
Barbara, from the clan of the Trencin wolf
(Her death saddened everyone profoundly).
I was just five years old, when I was sent
Before the first threshold of the Muses,
Because my father loved me so deeply
That he did not desire that a hard plough
Hurt my feeble hands during heavy toil,
And the heat burn my face. When I received
Learning rudiments from unskilled masters,
(I owe you nothing more, my town of Żnin!)
I went on to the school which Lubrański
Had established by the Warta's current,
There I met someone who excellently
Taught the knowledge of the Romans and Greeks.
Having prepared the new soil, he
To cultivate it most conscientiously.
At long last, I heard the name of Maro
And also your name, my beloved Naso!
As I read, I began to worship. Oh,
The poets became nearly gods to me.
To Apollo, their patron, how many
Supplications I offered tearfully,
So he would admit me to his chorus
And his retinue even as a squire.
He beckoned, I rushed, he stretched out his hand
And gave me a lute. How I fondled it,
I trained my fingers with resolve, with joy,
A day or night wouldn't pass without the lute -
I remember it well. I spared no toil,
So as to make what progress my years permitted.
When for the first time I read a poem
Before an audience, I wasn't yet sixteen,
The subject of the poem was Lubrański -
To him were offered my earliest efforts.
People applauded - not for my merit,
But because they set their hopes on the boy.
I had the first place among the equals
And from that time on my master loved me.
Having tasted fame, object of desire,
I admired it so greatly in my soul,
That every day I dreamed of grander plans
And kept searching for all roads to it.
But along this route, gloomy poverty
Stood up in my way, constraining my feet:
My father said he did not have money,
To pay the costs of my farther studies.
Ready to bid farewell to the Muses,
I was saved by an unexpected fate.
was then bishop, dear to Phoebus
As only few men. He opened for me
A magnificent gate that led to his court,
Promising good fortune to my Muses,
And he would have likely kept his promise,
If premature death had not taken him.
After this loss, so distressing to me,
gave me shelter in his home,
Not sparing costs, he sent me to the lands
Of Latins. Like a merchant for jewels
I hurried on to Euganean Pallas
To acquire priceless knowledge from her.
Fortune was jealous of me: she ordered
I return in sickness to the home fires
Earlier than I wished and Kmita desired.
What could I do - fate rules over us all.
So I'll die at home; the only comfort:
I will not be covered by foreign soil.
So then you, Kromer
, or you, Rotundus
Who will cry over your departed friend,
If a headstone is laid down on the grave,
Write out with capital letters these words:
HERE I REST WITHOUT ANY HOPE AND FEAR,
TRULY ALIVE. FAREWELL, DEPARTED LIFE!
Enough of that. Now I return to you,
My reader, to weave again a story
Of my life. I was very sickly,
The smallest hardships would soon make me tired.
I was good looking and full of good cheer
(Though you could detect shyness in my eyes),
Articulate, with a clear voice, white skin,
I was quite shapely and tall in stature;
Sensitive, quick to anger; now and then
For many days I was irritated
And never did I hide hostility,
But ever did I give reason for it.
In friendship I was fastidious and firm,
Knowing it was the most precious treasure.
Had fate brought me great riches, I believe
No one would have lived more grandly than I,
Nor would have been more giving. I admired
These Roman words, so truly imperial:
"I haven't given out anything today,
O, shame, I have lost a day, lived in vain!"
I had a compassionate heart - but such
As beats in the timid chest of a deer;
I detested all arms and always was
An enemy of the warlike Pallas.
The elegance of manners, costume, food
I loved too much, nearly like a woman.
From boyhood until the age of twenty
I drank only water; from this, I think,
My liver began to ail; that water
Once drunk, strangles my life at the present.
Judging by deceptive appearances,
Many contrymen thought me licentious -
Either because I much liked songs and jokes,
Or because while still a boy I praised love;
At first Leukorode, then more virtuous
Alfesibea lived in my elegies
Where are those works, you will ask? The same place
As the other works-gone into the fire,
Worthy of short life as everything else,
Which was hurried on by my youthful pride.
And today, with one score and five years passed,
When the time has arrived for greater works,
I hear the call and die prematurely,
Without glorifying you, as I wished,
My homeland, your past history and kings,
And that which deserves glory at present,
Specially the nuptials, which his father -
Our king - and Ferdinand prepared for
. Others will do it later.
What I can, I do: pray he lives and reigns.
Live, friends, remembering your Ianicius,
Even now be prepared to follow me
One day along the same road. So farewell,
, let fortune favor you
And your loved ones. I am sad that never
Will I be able to prove how I love you.
It is not my fate to tell the living
About your care for me. But when I go
To that country where the blessed spirits
Will accept me gaily to their circle,
Then I will talk about you. If, looking
At my shadow someone will inquire how
With this lethal water in my body,
Sick liver and spleen, I could live longer
Than the severity of such sickness
Usually allows for, I will answer:
There is among people a physician,
Who surpassed the might of Apollo's son
That brought Hippolitus once from the depth,
But the other extracted me many times
From the grave and deluded the Parcae
Delayed the fateful moment many days.
If he did not restore my former health,
It is not his fault, but that of tireless
Sickness. Many a weakness can be cured.
Who, save for Christ, could defeat hydropsy?
Montanus and Cassanus
, who brightened
The Euganean land with highest glory,
Could not destroy the Hydra
, even though
It then was just barely hatching in me.
Antoninus had to fight a full grown
And already victorious monster.
He would have surely overpowered it,
If victory could have been in man's might.
But this death seems to be the destiny
Of my family; my father before
Died the same way. So many blows and foes
Everywhere! And the doctors' hands fell faint.
This I will retell about you, my life -
I give you this name as you kept me live! -
You'll hear it yourself, when you come to me
Much later. You will come with the others
I leave behind. Because the fates offered
No human being an eternal home here.
Hydropsy, an accumulation of fluid within an organ or tissue.
Żnin, a town in Poznań voivodship.
Januszkowo, district Szubin, Janiciusz's home village.
Gniezno was the first Polish capital and archbishopric in Poland. Prussia was the part of the Polish kingdom, situated north of Masovia.
The seventeenth of November.
Barbara, daughter of Stephanus Zapolya, voivod of Transylvania, the first wife of Zygmunt the Old; she died in October 1515. That family of powerful Hungarian noblemen had a wolf in their coat of arms and their family castle was situated in Trencin on the river Wag.
Bishop Lubrański founded in Poznań, situated on the River Warta, one of the best schools in Poland in the sixteenth century.
Christophor Hegendorfinus, German humanist, taught six years in the school.
Maro - Virgil.
Naso - Ovid.
Andrzej Krzycki - poet and archbishop of Gniezno, one of the luminaries of the Polish Renaissance.
Phoebus - Apollo as the god of the sun.
Piotr Kmita - a nobleman, politician, protector of writers and scholars.
The University of Padua. South west of Padua there are the Euganean Mountains.
Marcin Kromer, a famous writer, royal secretary, bishop of Warmia, author of Polonia.
Augustus Rotundus, a humanist and lawyer.
The words of the Roman emperor, Titus.
Elegy - in Latin humanist poetry a lyric poem.
The wedding of Zygmunt August with Elizabeth, daughter of Ferdinand I Habsburg, the king of Bohemia and Hungary, was planned for May 1543.
Joannes Antoninus - a famous humanist and physician, a friend of Erasmus and royal physician in Cracow.
Aesculapius, son of Apollo, and god of medicine.
Parcae or the fates were supposed to decide upon the course of the child's life.
Famous Italian physicians.
Hydra was the monster slain by Hercules.
Translated by Michael J. Mikoś