Monday, April 22, 2013


Jeremias de Dekker, in John Bowring and Harry S. Van Dyk, eds., Batavian Anthology (1825), pp. 168-170:

The Too-Early-Opening Flower
Teer bloemeken, sie wat ghij doet.
Not yet, frail flower! thy charms unclose;
Too soon thou venturist forth again;
For April has its winter-rain,
And tempest-clouds, and nipping snows.
Too quickly thou uprear'st thy head;
The northern wind may reach thee still,
And injure -- nay, for ever kill
Thy charming white and lovely red.
And thou perchance too late wilt sigh,
That at the first approach of spring
Thou mad'st thy bud unfold its wing,
And show its blush to every eye;
For March a faithless smile discloses.
If thou wouldst bloom securely here,
Let Phoebus first o'ertake the steer:
Thou'rt like the seaman, who reposes
On one fair day -- one favouring wind,
Weighs anchor, and the future braves:
But sighs, when on the ocean waves,
For that calm port he leaves behind,
As with an anxious eye he sees
His shatter'd hull and shiver'd sail
Borne at the mercy of the gale
Wherever winds and waters please;
And deems, as he is sinking fast
The sands and brine and foam beneath,
That every wave contains a death,
That every plunge will be his last.
Thou'rt like the courtier, who, elate
When greeted first by favour's ray,
Begins to make a grand display: --
But, ah! it is a fickle state.
A court is like a garden-shade;
The courtiers and the flowers that rise
Too suddenly, 'neath changeful skies,
Oft sink into the dust and fade.
In short, we all like thy flower,
And ever, both in weal and woe,
With strange perverseness, we bestow
Our thoughts on time's swift-fleeting hour.
And 'tis the same with those who pine,
And deem that grief will never flee,
And those who, bred in luxury,
Think the gay sun will always shine.
For every joy brings sorrow too,
And even grief may herald mirth;
And God has mingled life on earth
With bitterness and honey-dew.
Thus winter follows summer's bloom,
And verdant summer winter's blight;
Thus reigns by turns the day and night; --
Change is the universal doom.
Then, floweret! when thy charms have fled,
All wither'd by a fate unkind,
Call wisdom's proverb to thy mind --
Soon green, soon gray -- soon ripe, soon dead.

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