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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.


From the French. To Cardinal Richelieu

By François de Malherbe

THOU mighty Prince of Church and State,

Richelieu! until the hour of death,

Whatever road man chooses, Fate

Still holds him subject to her breath.

Spun of all silks, our days and nights

Have sorrows woven with delights;

And of this intermingled shade

Our various destiny appears,

Even as one sees the course of years

Of summers and of winters made.

Sometimes the soft, deceitful hours

Let us enjoy the halcyon wave;

Sometimes impending peril lowers

Beyond the seaman’s skill to save.

The Wisdom, infinitely wise,

That gives to human destinies

Their foreordained necessity,

Has made no law more fixed below,

Than the alternate ebb and flow

Of Fortune and Adversity.