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The broils that from Metellus date,
The secret springs, the dark intrigues,
The freaks of Fortune, and the great
Confederate in disastrous leagues,
And arms with uncleansed slaughter red,
A work of danger and distrust,
You treat, as one on fire should tread
Scarce hid by treacherous ashen crust.
Let Tragedy's stern muse be mute
Awhile; and when your order'd page
Has told Rome's tale, that buskin'd foot
Again shall mount the Attic stage,
Pollio, the pale defendant's shield,
In deep debate the senate's stay,
The hero of Dalmatic field
By Triumph crown'd with deathless bay.
E'en now with trumpet's threatening blare
You thrill our ears; the clarion brays;
The lightnings of the armour scare
The steed, and daunt the rider's gaze.
Methinks I hear of leaders proud
With no uncomely dust distain'd,
And all the world by conquest bow'd,
And only Cato's soul unchain'd.
Yes, Juno and the powers on high
That left their Afric to its doom,
Have led the victors' progeny
As victims to Jugurtha's tomb.
What field, by Latian blood-drops fed,
Proclaims not the unnatural deeds
It buries, and the earthquake dread
Whose distant thunder shook the Medes?
What gulf, what river has not seen
Those sights of sorrow? nay, what sea
Has Daunian carnage yet left green?
What coast from Roman blood is free?
But pause, gay Muse, nor leave your play
Another Cean dirge to sing;
With me to Venus' bower away,
And there attune a lighter string.
The silver, Sallust, shows not fair
While buried in the greedy mine:
You love it not till moderate wear
Have given it shine.
Honour to Proculeius! he
To brethren play'd a father's part;
Fame shall embalm through years to be
That noble heart.
Who curbs a greedy soul may boast
More power than if his broad-based throne
Bridged Libya's sea, and either coast
Were all his own.
Indulgence bids the dropsy grow;
Who fain would quench the palate's flame
Must rescue from the watery foe
The pale weak frame.
Phraates, throned where Cyrus sate,
May count for blest with vulgar herds,
But not with Virtue; soon or late
From lying words
She weans men's lips; for him she keeps
The crown, the purple, and the bays,
Who dares to look on treasure-heaps
With unblench'd gaze.
An equal mind, when storms o'ercloud,
Maintain, nor 'neath a brighter sky
Let pleasure make your heart too proud,
O Dellius, Dellius! sure te die,
Whether in gloom you spend each year,
Or through long holydays at ease
In grassy nook your spirit cheer
With old Falernian vintages,
Where poplar pale, and pine-tree high
Their hospitable shadows spread
Entwined, and panting waters try
To hurry down their zigzag bed.
Bring wine and scents, and roses' bloom,
Too brief, alas! to that sweet place;
While life, and fortune, and the loom
Of the Three Sisters yield you grace.
Soon must you leave the woods you buy,
Your villa, wash'd by Tiber's flow,
Leave,—and your treasures, heap'd so high,
Your reckless heir will level low.
Whether from Argos' founder born
In wealth you lived beneath the sun,
Or nursed in beggary and scorn,
You fall to Death, who pities none.
One way all travel; the dark urn
Shakes each man's lot, that soon or late
Will force him, hopeless of return,
On board the exile-ship of Fate.
Why, Xanthias, blush to own you love
Your slave? Briseis, long ago,
A captive, could Achilles move
With breast of snow.
Tecmessa's charms enslaved her lord,
Stout Ajax, heir of Telamon;
Atrides, in his pride, adored
The maid he won,
When Troy to Thessaly gave way,
And Hector's all too quick decease
Made Pergamus an easier prey
To wearied Greece.
What if, as auburn Phyllis' mate,
You graft yourself on regal stem?
Oh yes! be sure her sires were great;
She weeps for them.
Believe me, from no rascal scum
Your charmer sprang; so true a flame,
Such hate of greed, could never come
From vulgar dame.
With honest fervour I commend
Those lips, those eyes; you need not fear
A rival, hurrying on to end
His fortieth year.
Septimius, who with me would brave
Far Gades, and Cantabrian land
Untamed by Rome, and Moorish wave
That whirls the sand;
Fair Tibur, town of Argive kings,
There would I end my days serene,
At rest from seas and travellings,
And service seen.
Should angry Fate those wishes foil,
Then let me seek Galesus, sweet
To skin-clad sheep, and that rich soil,
The Spartan's seat.
O, what can match the green recess,
Whose honey not to Hybla yields,
Whose olives vie with those that bless
Long springs, mild winters glad that spot
By Jove's good grace, and Aulon, dear
To fruitful Bacchus, envies not
That spot, those happy heights desire
Our sojourn; there, when life shall end,
Your tear shall dew my yet warm pyre,
Your bard and friend.
O, oft with me in troublous time
Involved, when Brutus warr'd in Greece,
Who gives you back to your own clime
And your own gods, a man of peace,
Pompey, the earliest friend I knew,
With whom I oft cut short the hours
With wine, my hair bright bathed in dew
Of Syrian oils, and wreathed with flowers?
With you I shared Philippi's rout,
Unseemly parted from my shield,
When Valour fell, and warriors stout
Were tumbled on the inglorious field:
But I was saved by Mercury,
Wrapp'd in thick mist, yet trembling sore,
While you to that tempestuous sea
Were swept by battle's tide once more.
Come, pay to Jove the feast you owe;
Lay down those limbs, with warfare spent,
Beneath my laurel; nor be slow
To drain my cask; for you 'twas meant.
Lethe's true draught is Massic wine;
Fill high the goblet; pour out free
Rich streams of unguent. Who will twine
The hasty wreath from myrtle-tree
Or parsley? Whom will Venus seat
Chairman of cups? Are Bacchants sane?
Then I'll be sober. O, 'tis sweet
To fool, when friends come home again!
Had chastisement for perjured truth,
Barine, mark'd you with a curse—
Did one wry nail, or one black tooth,
But make you worse—
I'd trust you; but, when plighted lies
Have pledged you deepest, lovelier far
You sparkle forth, of all young eyes
The ruling star.
'Tis gain to mock your mother's bones,
And night's still signs, and all the sky,
And gods, that on their glorious thrones
Chill Death defy.
Ay, Venus smiles; the pure nymphs smile,
And Cupid, tyrant-lord of hearts,
Sharpening on bloody stone the while
His fiery darts.
New captives fill the nets you weave;
New slaves are bred; and those before,
Though oft they threaten, never leave
Your godless door.
The mother dreads you for her son,
The thrifty sire, the new-wed bride,
Lest, lured by you, her precious one
Should leave her side.
The rain, it rains not every day
On the soak'd meads; the Caspian main
Not always feels the unequal sway
Of storms, nor on Armenia's plain,
Dear Valgius, lies the cold dull snow
Through all the year; nor northwinds keen
Upon Garganian oakwoods blow,
And strip the ashes of their green.
You still with tearful tones pursue
Your lost, lost Mystes; Hesper sees
Your passion when he brings the dew,
And when before the sun he flees.
Yet not for loved Antilochus
Grey Nestor wasted all his years
In grief; nor o'er young Troilus
His parents' and his sisters' tears
For ever flow'd. At length have done
With these soft sorrows; rather tell
Of Caesar's trophies newly won,
And hoar Niphates' icy fell,
And Medus' flood, 'mid conquer'd tribes
Rolling a less presumptuous tide,
And Scythians taught, as Rome prescribes,
Henceforth o'er narrower steppes to ride.
Licinius, trust a seaman's lore:
Steer not too boldly to the deep,
Nor, fearing storms, by treacherous shore
Too closely creep.
Who makes the golden mean his guide,
Shuns miser's cabin, foul and dark,
Shuns gilded roofs, where pomp and pride
Are envy's mark.
With fiercer blasts the pine's dim height
Is rock'd; proud towers with heavier fall
Crash to the ground; and thunders smite
The mountains tall.
In sadness hope, in gladness fear
'Gainst coming change will fortify
Your breast. The storms that Jupiter
Sweeps o'er the sky
He chases. Why should rain today
Bring rain tomorrow? Python's foe
Is pleased sometimes his lyre to play,
Nor bends his bow.
Be brave in trouble; meet distress
With dauntless front; but when the gale
Too prosperous blows, be wise no less,
And shorten sail.
O ask not what those sons of war,
Cantabrian, Scythian, each intend,
Disjoin'd from us by Hadria's bar,
Nor puzzle, Quintius, how to spend
A life so simple. Youth removes,
And Beauty too; and hoar Decay
Drives out the wanton tribe of Loves
And Sleep, that came or night or day.
The sweet spring-flowers not always keep
Their bloom, nor moonlight shines the same
Each evening. Why with thoughts too deep
O'ertask a mind of mortal frame?
Why not, just thrown at careless ease
'Neath plane or pine, our locks of grey
Perfumed with Syrian essences
And wreathed with roses, while we may,
Lie drinking? Bacchus puts to shame
The cares that waste us. Where's the slave
To quench the fierce Falernian's flame
With water from the passing wave?
Who'll coax coy Lyde from her home?
Go, bid her take her ivory lyre,
The runaway, and haste to come,
Her wild hair bound with Spartan tire.
The weary war where fierce Numantia bled,
Fell Hannibal, the swoln Sicilian main
Purpled with Punic blood—not mine to wed
These to the lyre's soft strain,
Nor cruel Lapithae, nor, mad with wine,
Centaurs, nor, by Herculean arm o'ercome,
The earth-born youth, whose terrors dimm'd the shine
Of the resplendent dome
Of ancient Saturn. You, Maecenas, best
In pictured prose of Caesar's warrior feats
Will tell, and captive kings with haughty crest
Led through the Roman streets.
On me the Muse has laid her charge to tell
Of your Licymnia's voice, the lustrous hue
Of her bright eye, her heart that beats so well
To mutual passion true:
How nought she does but lends her added grace,
Whether she dance, or join in bantering play,
Or with soft arms the maiden choir embrace
On great Diana's day.
Say, would you change for all the wealth possest
By rich Achaemenes or Phrygia's heir,
Or the full stores of Araby the blest,
One lock of her dear hair,
While to your burning lips she bends her neck,
Or with kind cruelty denies the due
She means you not to beg for, but to take,
Or snatches it from you?
Black day he chose for planting thee,
Accurst he rear'd thee from the ground,
The bane of children yet to be,
The scandal of the village round.
His father's throat the monster press'd
Beside, and on his hearthstone spilt,
I ween, the blood of midnight guest;
Black Colchian drugs, whate'er of guilt
Is hatch'd on earth, he dealt in all—
Who planted in my rural stead
Thee, fatal wood, thee, sure to fall
Upon thy blameless master's head.
The dangers of the hour! no thought
We give them; Punic seaman's fear
Is all of Bosporus, nor aught
Reeks he of pitfalls otherwhere;
The soldier fears the mask'd retreat
Of Parthia; Parthia dreads the thrall
Of Rome; but Death with noiseless feet
Has stolen and will steal on all.
How near dark Pluto's court I stood,
And Aeacus' judicial throne,
The blest seclusion of the good,
And Sappho, with sweet lyric moan
Bewailing her ungentle sex,
And thee, Alcaeus, louder far
Chanting thy tale of woful wrecks,
Of woful exile, woful war!
In sacred awe the silent dead
Attend on each: but when the song
Of combat tells and tyrants fled,
Keen ears, press'd shoulders, closer throng.
What marvel, when at those sweet airs
The hundred-headed beast spell-bound
Each black ear droops, and Furies' hairs
Uncoil their serpents at the sound?
Prometheus too and Pelops' sire
In listening lose the sense of woe;
Orion hearkens to the lyre,
And lets the lynx and lion go.
Ah, Postumus! they fleet away,
Our years, nor piety one hour
Can win from wrinkles and decay,
And Death's indomitable power;
Not though three hundred bullocks flame
Each year, to soothe the tearless king
Who holds huge Geryon's triple frame
And Tityos in his watery ring,
That circling flood, which all must stem,
Who eat the fruits that Nature yields,
Wearers of haughtiest diadem,
Or humblest tillers of the fields.
In vain we shun war's contact red
Or storm-tost spray of Hadrian main:
In vain, the season through, we dread
For our frail lives Scirocco's bane.
Cocytus' black and stagnant ooze
Must welcome you, and Danaus' seed
Ill-famed, and ancient Sisyphus
To never-ending toil decreed.
Your land, your house, your lovely bride
Must lose you; of your cherish'd trees
None to its fleeting master's side
Will cleave, but those sad cypresses.
Your heir, a larger soul, will drain
The hundred-padlock'd Caecuban,
And richer spilth the pavement stain
Than e'er at pontiff's supper ran.
Few roods of ground the piles we raise
Will leave to plough; ponds wider spread
Than Lucrine lake will meet the gaze
On every side; the plane unwed
Will top the elm; the violet-bed,
The myrtle, each delicious sweet,
On olive-grounds their scent will shed,
Where once were fruit-trees yielding meat;
Thick bays will screen the midday range
Of fiercest suns. Not such the rule
Of Romulus, and Cato sage,
And all the bearded, good old school.
Each Roman's wealth was little worth,
His country's much; no colonnade
For private pleasance wooed the North
With cool “prolixity of shade.”
None might the casual sod disdain
To roof his home; a town alone,
At public charge, a sacred fane
Were honour'd with the pomp of stone.
For ease, in wide Aegean caught,
The sailor prays, when clouds are hiding
The moon, nor shines of starlight aught
For seaman's guiding:
For ease the Mede, with quiver gay:
For ease rude Thrace, in battle cruel:
Can purple buy it, Grosphus? Nay,
Nor gold, nor jewel.
No pomp, no lictor clears the way
'Mid rabble-routs of troublous feelings,
Nor quells the cares that sport and play
Round gilded ceilings.
More happy he whose modest board
His father's well-worn silver brightens;
No fear, nor lust for sordid hoard,
His light sleep frightens.
Why bend our bows of little span?
Why change our homes for regions under
Another sun? What exiled man
From self can sunder?
Care climbs the bark, and trims the sail,
Curst fiend! nor troops of horse can 'scape her,
More swift than stag, more swift than gale
That drives the vapour.
Blest in the present, look not forth
On ills beyond, but soothe each bitter
With slow, calm smile. No suns on earth
Achilles' light was quench'd at noon;
A long decay Tithonus minish'd;
My hours, it may be, yet will run
When yours are flnish'd.
For you Sicilian heifers low,
Bleat countless flocks; for you are neighing
Proud coursers; Afric purples glow
For your arraying
With double dyes; a small domain,
The soul that breathed in Grecian harping,
My portion these; and high disdain
Of ribald carping.
Why rend my heart with that sad sigh?
It cannot please the gods or me
That you, Maecenas, first should die,
My pillar of prosperity.
Ah! should I lose one half my soul
Untimely, can the other stay
Behind it? Life that is not whole,
Is that as sweet? The self-same day
Shall crush us twain; no idle oath
Has Horace sworn; whene'er you go,
We both will travel, travel both
The last dark journey down below.
No, not Chimaera's fiery breath,
Nor Gyas, could he rise again,
Shall part us; Justice, strong as death,
So wills it; so the Fates ordain.
Whether 'twas Libra saw me born
Or angry Scorpio, lord malign
Of natal hour, or Capricorn,
The tyrant of the western brine,
Our planets sure with concord strange
Are blended. You by Jove's blest power
Were snatch'd from out the baleful range
Of Saturn, and the evil hour
Was stay'd, when rapturous benches full
Three times the auspicious thunder peal'd;
Me the curst trunk, that smote my skull,
Had slain; but Faunus, strong to shield
The friends of Mercury, check'd the blow
In mid descent. Be sure to pay
The victims and the fane you owe;
Your bard a humbler lamb will slay.
Carven ivory have I none
No golden cornice in my dwelling shines;
Pillars choice of Libyan stone
Upbear no architrave from Attic mines;
'Twas not mine to enter in
To Attalus' broad realms, an unknown heir,
Nor for me fair clients spin
Laconian purples for their patron's wear.
Truth is mine, and Genius mine;
The rich man comes, and knocks at my low door:
Favour'd thus, I ne'er repine,
Nor weary out indulgent Heaven for more:
In my Sabine homestead blest,
Why should I further tax a generous friend?
Suns are hurrying suns a-west,
And newborn moons make speed to meet their end.
You have hands to square and hew
Vast marble-blocks, hard on your day of doom,
Ever building mansions new,
Nor thinking of the mansion of the tomb.
Now you press on ocean's bound,
Where waves on Baiae beat, as earth were scant;
Now absorb your neighbour's ground,
And tear his landmarks up, your own to plant.
Hedges set round clients' farms
Your avarice tramples; see, the outcasts fly,
Wife and husband, in their arms
Their fathers' gods, their squalid family.
Yet no hall that wealth e'er plann'd
Waits you more surely than the wider room
Traced by Death's yet greedier hand.
Why strain so far? you cannot leap the tomb.
Earth removes the impartial sod
Alike for beggar and for monarch's child:
Nor the slave of Hell's dark god
Convey'd Prometheus back, with bribe beguiled.
Pelops he and Pelops' sire
Holds, spite of pride, in close captivity;
Beggars, who of labour tire,
Call'd or uncall'd, he hears and sets them free.
Bacchus I saw in mountain glades
Retired (believe it, after years!)
Teaching his strains to Dryad maids,
While goat-hoof'd satyrs prick'd their ears.
Evoe! my eyes with terror glare;
My heart is revelling with the god;
'Tis madness! Evoe! spare, O spare,
Dread wielder of the ivied rod!
Yes, I may sing the Thyiad crew,
The stream of wine, the sparkling rills
That run with milk, and honey-dew
That from the hollow trunk distils;
And I may sing thy consort's crown,
New set in heaven, and Pentheus' hall
With ruthless ruin thundering down,
And proud Lycurgus' funeral.
Thou turn'st the rivers, thou the sea;
Thou, on far summits, moist with wine,
Thy Bacchants' tresses harmlessly
Dost knot with living serpent-twine.
Thou, when the giants, threatening wrack,
Were clambering up Jove's citadel,
Didst hurl o'erweening Rhoetus back,
In tooth and claw a lion fell.
Who knew thy feats in dance and play
Deem'd thee belike for war's rough game
Unmeet: but peace and battle-fray
Found thee, their centre, still the same.
Grim Cerberus wagg'd his tail to see
Thy golden horn, nor dreamd of wrong.
But gently fawning, follow'd thee,
And lick'd thy feet with triple tongue.
No vulgar wing, nor weakly plied,
Shall bear me through the liquid sky;
A two-form'd bard, no more to bide
Within the range of envy's eye
'Mid haunts of men. I, all ungraced
By gentle blood, I, whom you call
Your friend, Maecenas, shall not taste
Of death, nor chafe in Lethe's thrall.
E'en now a rougher skin expands
Along my legs: above I change
To a white bird; and o'er my hands
And shoulders grows a plumage strange:
Fleeter than Icarus, see me float
O'er Bosporus, singing as I go,
And o'er Gaetulian sands remote,
And Hyperborean fields of snow;
By Dacian horde, that masks its fear
Of Marsic steel, shall I be known,
And furthest Scythian: Spain shall hear
My warbling, and the banks of Rhone.
No dirges for my fancied death;
No weak lament, no mournful stave;
All clamorous grief were waste of breath,
And vain the tribute of a grave.
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