Climb at Court for me that will / Tottering favors Pinacle; / All I seek is to lye still.

From Seneca’s Thyestes, the conclusion to the second chorus (conclusion of Act II, lines 391-403):

Stet quicumque volet potens
aulae culmine lubrico:
me dulcis saturet quies.
obscuro positus loco
leni perfruar otio,
nullis nota Quiritibus
aetas per tacitum fluat.
sic cum transierint mei
nullo cum strepitu dies,
plebeius moriar senex.
illi mors gravis incubat
qui, notus nimis omnibus,
ignotus moritur sibi.

Here first is John G. Fitch’s translation from the new Loeb:

Who wishes may stand in power
on a palace’s slippery peak:
let sweet repose sate me.
Set in an obscure place
let me bask in gentle leisure;
known to no Quirites
let my life flow on through peace.
So, when my days have passed
without turmoil, let me die
an old plebeian man.
Death weighs heavy on one
who, too well known to all,
dies unknown to himself.

And here is Andrew Marvell’s well-known version:

Climb at Court for me that will
Tottering favors Pinacle;
All I seek is to lye still.
Settled in some secret Nest
In calm Leisure let me rest;
And far off the publick Stage
Pass away my silent Age.
Thus when without noise, unknown,
I have liv’d out all my span,
I shall dye, without a groan,
An old honest Country man.
Who expos’d to others Ey’s,
Into his own Heart ne’r pry’s,
Death to him ‘s a Strange surprise

And a bonus –Abraham Cowley‘s somewhat expanded version:

Upon the slippery tops of human state,
The gilded pinnacles of fate,
Let others proudly stand, and for a while,
The giddy danger to beguile,
With joy and with disdain look down on all,
Till their heads turn, and down they fall.
Me, O ye gods, on earth, or else so near
That I no fall to earth may fear,
And, O ye gods, at a good distance seat
From the long ruins of the great!
Here wrapped in the arms of quiet let me lie,
Quiet, companion of obscurity.
Here let my life, with as much silence slide,
As time that measures it does glide.
Nor let the breath of infamy or fame,
From town to town echo about my name;
Nor let my homely death embroidered be
With scutcheon or with elegy.
An old plebeian let me die,
Alas, all then are such, as well as I.
To him, alas, to him, I fear,
The face of death will terrible appear;
Who in his life, flattering his senseless pride
By being known to all the world beside,
Does not himself, when he is dying, know;
Nor what he is, nor whither he’s to go.

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