TO HER ROYAL HIGHNESS, THE PRINCESS OF ***
by: Voltaire (François
Marie Arouet, 1694-1778)
- BEAUTEOUS princess often may
- Languish in pleasure's season gay;
- The empty forms of haughty state
- Oft make life tedious to the great.
- It must the greatest king confound,
- With all his courtiers circled round,
- Amidst a splendid court to find,
- That grandeur can't give peace of mind.
- Some think that play can give delight,
- But soon it grows insipid quite;
- And monarchs have been often seen,
- While gaming, tortured with the spleen.
- A king oft feasts with heavy heart,
- Pleasures to him no joy impart;
- While the dull vulgar contemplate,
- Like gazing idiots, pomp and state,
- And fondly think who is possessed
- Of them with bliss supreme is blessed.
- Soon as the sun's refulgent rays,
- Spread o'er the hemisphere their blaze;
- The king begins another day,
- Yet knows not where to take his way:
- Tired of himself he straight repairs
- To company, to soothe his cares.
- But pleasure flies from his embrace,
- It rises not from change of place;
- This day's insipid as the last,
- At night he knows not how it passed.
- Time's loss is not to be repaired,
- Life's to an instant well compared;
- What, when life posts away so fast,
- Can days appear so long at last?
- Princess, whose worth above thy age,
- All hearts at two courts can engage;
- You usefully that time employ,
- By youth consumed in rapid joy.
- The genius given by heaven benign,
- You strive to polish and refine,
- By studies which at once unite
- Instructions solid, with delight.
- 'Tis best the mind should be employed,
- Indolence leaves a craving void;
- The soul is like a subtle fire,
- Which if not fed must soon expire.
POEMS BY VOLTAIRE
This English translation by William
F. Fleming of 'To Her Royal Highness, the Princess of ***' is
reprinted from The Works of Voltaire, Volume XXXVI. Trans.
William F. Fleming. New York: E.R. DuMONT, 1901.