When we sit down at the cross formed by two ways
And must choose regret along with remorse
And dual fate forces us to pick one course
And the keystone of two arches fixes our gaze,
You alone, mistress of the secret, attest
To the downward slope where one road goes.
You know the other path that our steps chose,
As one chooses the cedar for a chest.
And not for virtue, which we don’t possess.
And not for duty, which we do not love.
But, as carpenters find the center of
The wood, to seek the center of wretchedness.
And to approach the axis of distress,
And for the dumb need to feel the whole curse,
And to do what’s harder and to suffer worse,
And to take the blow in all its fullness.
Through that sleight-of-hand, that very artfulness,
Which will never make us happy anymore,
Let us, o queen, preserve at least our honor,
And along with it our simple tenderness.
– trans. RR