Vitae Summa Brevis Spem Nos Vetet Incohare Longam

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
   Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
   We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
   Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
   Within a dream.

Ernest Dowson

The first line of the second stanza of the poem is better known than the poem itself, being the title of a movie starring Jack Lemmon as an alchoholic, for which he was nominated an Oscar. The line has subsequently become a popular phrase in modern parlance.

The poem itself was recited on the radio during the climactic scene of the 1944 film noir classic Laura by a spurned admirer of the title character.

The title of the poem is a line from an ode by Quintus Horatius Flaccus (better known as Horace) - the fourth from his first book of odes. Translation of latin is loose at best, and many versions are available of the line, but the essense of the phrase is: why have big/long dreams/hopes when life is small/short.

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