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Ode XI


Have done with unlawful pryings into futurity, Leuconoe. Live while you live. Old time is still a-flyiiig.

Cf. Dobson's Villanelle, 'Seek not, O maid, to know, | Alas! unblest the trying, | When thou and I must go'; George O. Trevelyan's amusing parody, 'Matilda, will you ne'er have ceased | Apocalyptic summing, | And left the number of the beast | To puzzle Doctor Cumming?' There is a weak imitation in Dodsley, 4. 105, and a poor version by Hamilton, Johnson's Poets, 15. 635. For the beautiful choriambic meter, cf. 1. 18, 4. 10, Catull. 30, Sappho, fr. 68 (19), and Swinburne's metrical experiment, 'Love, what ailed thee to leave life that was made lovely, we thought, with love?'


quaesieris: ne with perf. subj. is a more peremptory colloquial prohibition than ne with present subj., or the normal polite periphrasis with noli. Between Terence and Livy it is found only in distinctly colloquial passages in Cicero and four tiiiies in Horace. Elmer, Latin Prohibitive, pp.3, 19.—scire nefas: 'tis wrong to know; cf. Lucan, 1. 127; Stat. Theb. 3. 563; infra, 4. 4. 22; Epode 16. 14; 3. 29. 32.


nec: Elmer, Lat. Prohib. p.27, says that Horace is the first poet to use nec,with perf. subj. in clearly prohibitive sense following ne. Neve or neu was normal. It will be observed that nec temptaris (nor make trial of) is virtually a mere expansion of ne quaesieris, and adds nothing new. Cf. Munro on Lucret. 5. 891.


numeros: calculations, i.e. of Chaldacan astrologers, called mathematici. Cf. on 2. 17, and Tac. Hist. 1. 22.—ut melius: how much better. Cf. Sat. 2. 6. 53; Verg. Aen. 2. 283.—quidquid erit: cf. Verg. Aen. 5. 710, quidquid erit, superanda omnis fortuna ferendo est.


hiemes: the years are marked by summers or winters to suit the rhetorical color. Cf. Tenn., 'A hundred winters snowed upon his breast.'—tribuit: has assigned; ἔδωκεν, ἐπέκλωσεν.


debilitat: breaks the force of. Cf. Lucret. 2. 1155, fluctus plangentis saxa.—oppositis . . . pumicibus: upon the barrier of rocks; pumicibus, any wave-eaten stone. Cf. Verg. Aen. 5. 214; Lucret. 1. 326, vesco sale saxa peresa.


sapias: be wise. liques: strain, i.e. through a cloth or colum (strainer), to clear it of sediment.—spatio brevi: abl. abs. of reason, (life's) span being short.


spem longam: hopes that look far into the future; cf. 1. 4. 15, the 'long thoughts' of youth; 'quittez le long espoir et les vastes pensées.' Cf. Cowley, Shortness of Life, 'Horace advises very wisely, and in excellent good words, spatio brevi spem longam reseces; from a short life cut off, all hopes that grow too long.'—dum loquimur: cf. Persius, 5. 153, vive memor leti, fugit hora, hoc quod loquor inde est; Longfellow, 'Wisely the Hebrews admit no present tense in their language; While we are speaking the word, it is already the past'; Boileau, 'Le moment ou je parle est déjà loin de moi.'—fugerit: will be gone. Cf. Lucret. 3. 915, iam fuerit; Milton, 'Fly, envious time, till thou run out thy race'; Fitzgerald's Omar Khayyám, 7, 'The Bird of time has but a little way | To flutter and the Bird is on the wing.'—invida: that grudges to grant the prayer of happy youth, 'O temps, suspends ton vol,' etc. (Lamartine).


carpe diem: catch as it flies or pluck the flower of. Cf. Martial, 7. 47. 11, vive velut rapto fugitivaque gaudia carpe; But 3. 27. 44, carpere flores; Juv. 9. 126, flosculus angustae miseraeque brevissima vitae Portio. The two points of view blend in Tennyson's 'They lost their weeks; they vexed the souls of Deans | . . . And caught the blossom of the flying terms.' For the general Epicurean sentiment, cf. Epist. 1. 4. 13; 1. 11. 23; Eurip. Alcest. 782; Ecclesiastic. 14. 14. - quam . . . postero: trusting the morrow as little as possible; with postero sc. diei. Cf. Epist. 1. 4. 13; Fitzgerald's Omar Khayyám, 'To-morrow! why, to-morrow I may be | Myself with yesterday's seven thousand years': Trevelyan, 'And book me for the fifteenth valse; there just beneath my thumb, | No, not the next to that, my girl! The next may never come.'


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