Pierre de Ronsard: The Paradox of Time

The Paradox of Time

Time goes, you say? Ah, no!
Alas, Time stays, we go;
  Or else, were this not so,
What need to chain the hours,
For Youth were always ours?
  Time goes, you say?—ah, no!

Ours is the eyes’ deceit
Of men whose flying feet
  Lead through some landscape low;
We pass, and think we see
The earth’s fixed surface flee:—
  Alas, Time stays,—we go!

Once in the days of old,
Your locks were curling gold,
  And mine had shamed the crow.
Now, in the self-same stage,
We’ve reached the silver age;
  Time goes, you say?—ah, no!

Once when my voice was strong,
I filled the woods with song
  To praise your “rose” and “snow”;
My bird, that sang, is dead;
Where are your roses fled?
  Alas, Time stays,—we go!

See, in what traversed ways,
What backward Fate delays
  The hopes we used to know;
Where are your old desires?—
Ah, where those vanished fires?
  Time goes, you say?—ah, no!

How far, how far, O Sweet,
The past behind our feet
  Lies in the even-glow!
Now on the forward way,
Let us fold hands, and pray;
  Alas, Time stays,—we go.

Translated by Austin Dobson

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