Human Misery

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Human Misery (c. 1630) 
by Andreas Gryphius, translated by Scott Horton

What indeed are men! A dwelling place for grim pains,
A ball of false fortune, a will-o’-the-wisp of their times,
A stage of bitter fear, set with sharp pain,
A quickly melting snow and burnt-out candles.

These lives flee from us like gossip and gestures,
Which before us have removed the gown of a weak body
Have been enrolled in the book of the dead, of the
Great Mortality, and to us are now vanishing memories.

Like a vain dream which easily passes from our attention
And closes up, like a current which no power can resist,
Thus must our name, praise, honor and fame also disappear.

What now draws breath must also escape with the air,
What will follow us will trail after us into the grave.
What am I saying? We are transitory, like smoke before a strong wind.