The Bent of Nature

by Boethius

English version by H. R. James
Original Language Latin

How the might of Nature sways
All the world in ordered ways,
How resistless laws control
Each least portion of the whole—
Fain would I in sounding verse
On my pliant strings rehearse.

Lo, the lion captive ta'en
Meekly wears his gilded chain;
Yet though he by hand be fed,
Though a master's whip he dread,
If but once the taste of gore
Whet his cruel lips once more,
Straight his slumbering fierceness wakes,
With one roar his bonds he breaks,
And first wreaks his vengeful force
On his trainer's mangled corse.

And the woodland songster, pent
In forlorn imprisonment,
Though a mistress' lavish care
Store of honeyed sweets prepare;
Yet, if in his narrow cage,
As he hops from bar to bar,
He should spy the woods afar,
Cool with sheltering foliage,
All these dainties he will spurn,
To the woods his heart will turn;
Only for the woods he longs,
Pipes the woods in all his songs.

To rude force the sapling bends,
While the hand its pressure lends;
If the hand its pressure slack,
Straight the supple wood springs back.
Phœbus in the western main
Sinks; but swift his car again
By a secret path is borne
To the wonted gates of morn.

Thus are all things seen to yearn
In due time for due return;
And no order fixed may stay,
Save which in th' appointed way
Joins the end to the beginning
In a steady cycle spinning.

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Recommended Books: Boethius

The Consolation of Philosophy

The Bent of Nature