We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
In the beginning life was good to me; it held me warm and gave me courage. That this is granted all while in their youth, how could I then have known of this. I never knew what living was---. But suddenly it was just year on year, no more good, no more new, no more wonderful. Life had been torn in two right down the middle.
That was not his fault nor mine since both of us had nothing but patience; but death has none. I saw him coming (how rotten he looked), and I watched him as he took and took: and nothing was mine.
What, then, belonged to me; was mine, my own? Was not even this utter wretchedness on loan to me by fate? Fate does not only claim your happiness, it also wants your pain back and your tears and buys the ruin as something useless, old.
Fate was present and acquired for a nothing every expression my face is capable of, even to the way I walk. The daily diminishing of me went on and after I was emptied fate gave me up and left me standing there, abandoned.
The linked translation is awful (original version of the 10th elegy).
Stephen Mitchell is the standard:
How we squander our hours of pain.
How we gaze beyond them into the bitter duration
to see if they have an end. Though they are really
seasons of us, our winter -
enduring foliage, ponds, meadows, our inborn landscape,
where birds and reed-dwelling creatures are at home.
vs the new
How we waste our afflictions!
We study them, stare out beyond them into bleak continuance,
hoping to glimpse some end. Whereas they’re really
our wintering foliage, our dark greens of meaning, one
of the seasons of the clandestine year—; not only
season —: they’re site, settlement, shelter, soil, abode.
Mitchell's end of that elegy:
Far too much you belong to grief. If you could forget her--
even the least of these figures so infinitely pained--
you would call down, shout down, hoping they might still be curious,
one of the angels (those beings unmighty in grief)
who, as his face darkened, would try again and again
to describe the way you kept sobbing, long ago, for her.
Angel, what was it like? And he would imitate you and never
understand that it was pain, as after a calling bird
one tries to repeat the innocent voice it is filled with.
Actually, Walter Arndt's translations are pretty good compared to others I've seen. Especially his "Orphan's Song", "The Courtesan", and "Autumn Song", below:
Lord, it is time.
Great was the summer's feast.
Now cast upon the sundials Your shadow,
And on the meadows have the winds released.
Command the last of fruits to round their shapes,
Grant two more days of South for vines to carry,
To their perfection thrust them on, and harry
The final sweetness into heavy grapes.
Who has not built his house will not start now.
Who now is by himself will long be so,
Be wakeful, read, write lengthy letters, go
In vague disquiet pacing up and down
Denuded lanes, with leaves adrift below.