Learning that flowered in days of yore
In these our times is thought a bore.
Once knowledge was a well to drink of;
Now having fun is all men think of.
Today mere striplings grow astute
Before their beards begin to shoot --
Striplings whose truant dispositions
Are deaf to wisdom's admonitions.
Yet it was true in ages past
No scholar paused from toil at last
Nor shrunk from studies the most weighty
Till his years numbered more than eighty.
Now boys you'd think were barely ten
Throw off the yoke and pose as men,
Nay, even plume themselves as masters:
Blind lead the blind to swift disasters.
Our birds unfledged must now take wing,
Our donkeys tune the lyre and sing,
Bulls dance in hall, and heralds' calling
Is mocked by knaves at the plow-tail bawling.
Nowadays Saint Gregory in the snug
Argues, inglorious, with his jug;
Saint Jerome taxes all his rigor
To make his gains a farthing bigger.
Saint Augustine, when crops are fine,
Saint Benedict over casks of wine,
Hold many close confabulations
To gauge the market's variations.
Now Mary tires of sitting still,
While household cares make Martha ill;
Leah becomes a birth-controller,
And Rachel's eyes are cleared with dolor.
Cato, who seemed so strict of late,
In hot-spots learns to dissipate;
The chastity that was Lucrece's
In the mad whirl goes all to pieces.
Whate'er a former age despised
By modern lights is widely prized;
As into ashes sinks the fire,
As what was moist at length grows drier,
So virtue into vice is turned,
Toil is exchanged for ease unearned,
And all things, in a time disjointed,
Fall off and leave the ways appointed.
The wise man, pondering this apart,
Disburdens and makes clean his heart,
Lest crying "Lord! Lord!" he should stumble
When on the last day earth shall crumble;
For if the world's great judge arraign him,
No mortal power can then sustain him.
From the *Carmina Burana*.