1 – Of the Worst Men

(Found Poem in Michel de Montainge’s “Of Solitude” translated by George B. Ives)

Let us leave on one side this tedious comparison
   between a solitary life and an active life.
Let us boldly refer ourselves to those who are in the whirl.
The evil methods by which men push themselves forward
   clearly indicate that the end is worth no more than the means.
Everywhere it is possible to do good and ill;
   none the less, the worst men are the greater number.
For good men are rare, that in a thousand there is not one good.

There is great danger of contagion in a crowd.
We can not help imitating the vicious or else hating them.

     There is danger,
     because they are numerous, 
     of resembling them;
     and because they are unlike us,
     danger of hating them much.

And the merchants who travel by sea are wise
  to look to it that those who sail on the same ship
are neither dissolute nor blasphemers nor wicked men,
  esteeming such company unlucky.

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