Verse from the Author, in his Ninety-Seventh Year, on His Stomach
Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle
Although they argue ad hoc and ad hac*
On my veritable life,
I am now no more than a stomach;
It’s not much, but it’ll do.
Qu’on raisonne ad hoc et ad hac
Sur mon existence présente,
Je ne suis plus qu’un estomac;
C’est bien peu, mais je m’en contente.
*Carries the sense here of “left and right.”
Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657-1757) lived a long life, and his age was much discussed in his time–hence the above poem. He studied at Rouen and practiced briefly as a lawyer before devoting himself to writing. While he wrote poems, plays, and opera, he is mostly remembered for his essays on nature, Greek thought and metaphysics. His works include Dialogues des morts [Conversations among the Dead], Entretiens sur la pluralité des mondes [Investigations on Multiple Worlds] and Discours sur l’églogue [Discourse on the Pastoral]. He was elected to the French Academy in 1691.