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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
“Desert a Beggar Born”
By Theognis (fl. Sixth Century B.C.)
 
Translation of John Hookham Frere

BLESSED, almighty Jove! with deep amaze
I view the world, and marvel at thy ways!
All our devices, every subtle plan,
Each secret act, and all the thoughts of man,
Your boundless intellect can comprehend!        5
On your award our destinies depend.
  How can you reconcile it to your sense
Of right and wrong, thus loosely to dispense
Your bounties on the wicked and the good?
How can your laws be known or understood,        10
When we behold a man faithful and just,
Humbly devout, true to his word and trust,
Dejected and oppressed; whilst the profane
And wicked and unjust, in glory reign,
Proudly triumphant, flushed with power and gain?        15
What inference can human reason draw?
How can we guess the secret of thy law,
Or choose the path approved by power divine?
We take, alas! perforce, the crooked line,
And act unwillingly the baser part,        20
Though loving truth and justice at our heart;
For very need, reluctantly compelled
To falsify the principles we held;
With party factions basely to comply;
To flatter, and dissemble, and to lie!        25
  Yet he—the truly brave—tried by the test
Of sharp misfortune, is approved the best;
While the soul-searching power of indigence
Confounds the weak, and banishes pretense.
  Fixt in an honorable purpose still,        30
The brave preserve the same unconquered will;
Indifferent to fortune, good or ill.
 
 
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