Luis de Góngora y Argote: “On the Deceitful Brevity of Life”

On the Deceitful Brevity of Life

More quickly than an arrow can travel
As it seeks the mark for which it’s bound,
More quietly than a chariot spins around
A pillar built on silent gravel …

Our lives run from us fast and far.
Who can doubt their stealthy treason?
Even savages who have no reason
Know every sun is but a shooting star.

Each ruin proclaims it, but have you truly pondered
The danger that comes, dear friend, if you must
Grasp at shadows at unreal threads?

You won’t be forgiven for the hours you squandered,
The hours that grind your days to dust,
The days that gnaw your years to shreds.

Luis de Góngora y Argote

Translated from Spanish by Paul Weinfield, © 2013

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