‘Life Is a Dream’, P. Calderón de la Barca

For there is such a pleasure in complaining
That a philosopher I’ve heard maintaining
One ought to seek a sorrow and be vain of it,
In order to be privileged to complain of it.

I recently got around to trying what Calderón de la Barca’s writing was like, and I decided to go with ‘Life Is a Dream’ as the first choice. I was a bit confused by the translation at times for unlike the verse above, some of the text seems to have a very difficult pause in it. I am unsure whether this was part of the original or a necessity of the translation, but it did manage to confuse me every now and then.

In this world’s uncertain gleam,
That to live is but to dream:
Man dreams what he is, and wakes
Only when upon him breaks
Death’s mysterious morning beam.

However, this was a very minor fault compared to the rather interesting plot that I did enjoy. After all, fate and predetermination — how could one not enjoy something with as clever a topic as that.

So, read it: but preferably in Spanish to avoid translations, and to get closer to the originals.

What is life?
A thing that seems,
A mirage that falsely gleams,
Phantom joy, delusive rest,
Since is life a dream at best,
And even dreams themselves are dreams.

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