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Petrarch – The calm of a winter’s night

April 9, 2015

“So often deceived, so often made sport of, we are unable to shake off the habit of hoping, and a credulity deceived a thousand times over, so great is the sweetness, albeit false, of happiness. How many times have I not said to myself, ‘O madman, O blind man forgetful of your condition, look here, take note, pay attention, stop, reflect, make a permanent, enduring, indelible sign. Remember this deception and that one. Never hope for anything. Believe nothing of Fortune; she is false, inconstant, capricious, and untrustworthy…. But after such a manly resolution, look how womanly, how absurdly I have fallen down again – shall I say laughably, or rather lamentably? Perhaps it is laughable to others, but to me it is utterly pitiful and sad. After the unexpected downfall of so many hopes, I, rash, thoughtless, and ill-advised, persuaded myself to hope again, and to trust in this momentary calm – the calm of a winter’s night, as it were – and to wait on the good fortune of tomorrow.”

[from Letters on Familiar Matters (Rerum familiarium libri) [1359], translated by Aldo S. Bernardo]


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