Hesiod, Works and Days - 90-99 (via perseus.tufts.edu)
Πρὶν μὲν γὰρ ζώεσκον ἐπὶ χθονὶ φῦλ᾽ ἀνθρώπων
νόσφιν ἄτερ τε κακῶν καὶ ἄτερ χαλεποῖο πόνοιο
νούσων τ᾽ ἀργαλέων, αἵ τ᾽ ἀνδράσι Κῆρας ἔδωκαν.
αἶψα γὰρ ἐν κακότητι βροτοὶ καταγηράσκουσιν.
ἀλλὰ γυνὴ χείρεσσι πίθου μέγα πῶμ᾽ ἀφελοῦσα
ἐσκέδασ᾽: ἀνθρώποισι δ᾽ ἐμήσατο κήδεα λυγρά.
μούνη δ᾽ αὐτόθι Ἐλπὶς ἐν ἀρρήκτοισι δόμοισιν
ἔνδον ἔμιμνε πίθου ὑπὸ χείλεσιν, οὐδὲ θύραζε
ἐξέπτη: πρόσθεν γὰρ ἐπέλλαβε πῶμα πίθοιο
αἰγιόχου βουλῇσι Διὸς νεφεληγερέταο.
For ere this the tribes of men lived on earth remote and free from ills and hard toil and heavy sicknesses which bring the Fates upon men; for in misery men grow old quickly. But the woman took off the great lid of the jar with her hands and scattered, all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men. Only Hope remained there in an unbreakable home within under the rim of the great jar, and did not fly out at the door; for ere that, the lid of the jar stopped her, by the will of Aegis-holding Zeus who gathers the clouds.
It is hard to get the combination just right. The individual stops can all be accounted for. There is the correct dosage to be taken at the right time. Pillows must be set carefully so to allow the neck to bend at just the right angle. There is also a secret, well kept, of having allowed for a satisfied stomach but not a sated one. I’ve also found that sliding into a bed after good conversation is helpful. If this conversation can happen around a table, and end with a sense of familial belonging, however brief, the chances of waking up with a hopeful perspective are increased. The stops are definable. If black coffee is added upon waking, along with the second correct dosage, this feeling of contentment can be extended for hours.
It isn’t the combination I am missing. From a lifetime of trial and error I was able to determine all the components. The numbers are right here, smeared on my palm. It is the finesse I lack. My fingers aren’t nimble. My hands shake and can’t manage the smooth transition from one stop then spinning back to the next. I stutter over the conversation. I land on the medication too soon or too late. Sometimes I skip right over the meal altogether. Most of the time I simply can’t open it. I can’t get to Hope, snagged just under the lip.
But when I do…