Consolation of Philosophy, by Boethius Book III. Song I.

Public Felicity Triumphant over Dangers

She ceased, but I stood fixed by the sweetness of the song in wonderment and eager expectation, my ears still strained to listen. And then after a little I said: ‘Thou sovereign solace of the stricken soul, what refreshment hast thou brought me, no less by the sweetness of thy singing than by the weightiness of thy discourse! Verily, I think not that I shall hereafter be unequal to the blows of Fortune. Wherefore, I no longer dread the remedies which thou saidst were something too severe for my strength; nay, rather, I am eager to hear of them and call for them with all vehemence.’

Then said she: ‘I marked thee fastening upon my words silently and intently, and I expected, or — to speak more truly — I myself brought about in thee, this state of mind. What now remains is of such sort that to the taste indeed it is biting, but when received within it turns to sweetness. But whereas thou dost profess thyself desirous of hearing, with what ardour wouldst thou not burn didst thou but perceive whither it is my task to lead thee!’

‘Whither?’ said I.

‘To true felicity,’ said she, ‘which even now thy spirit sees in dreams, but cannot behold in very truth, while thine eyes are engrossed with semblances.’

Then said I: ‘I beseech thee, do thou show to me her true shape without a moment’s loss.’

‘Gladly will I, for thy sake,’ said she. ‘But first I will try to sketch in words, and describe a cause which is more familiar to thee, that, when thou hast viewed this carefully, thou mayst turn thy eyes the other way, and recognise the beauty of true happiness.’

Song I.
The Thorns of Error.
Who fain would sow the fallow field,
 And see the growing corn,
Must first remove the useless weeds,
 The bramble and the thorn.

After ill savour, honey’s taste
 Is to the mouth more sweet;
After the storm, the twinkling stars
 The eyes more cheerly greet.

When night hath past, the bright dawn comes
 In car of rosy hue;
So drive the false bliss from thy mind,
 And thou shall see the true.


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