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Maecenas, born of monarch ancestors,
The shield at once and glory of my life!
There are who joy them in the Olympic strife
And love the dust they gather in the course;
The goal by hot wheels shunn'd, the famous prize,
Exalt them to the gods that rule mankind;
This joys, if rabbles fickle as the wind
Through triple grade of honours bid him rise,
That, if his granary has stored away
Of Libya's thousand floors the yield entire;
The man who digs his field as did his sire,
With honest pride, no Attalus may sway
By proffer'd wealth to tempt Myrtoan seas,
The timorous captain of a Cyprian bark.
The winds that make Icarian billows dark
The merchant fears, and hugs the rural ease
Of his own village home; but soon, ashamed
Of penury, he refits his batter'd craft.
There is, who thinks no scorn of Massic draught,
Who robs the daylight of an hour unblamed,
Now stretch'd beneath the arbute on the sward,
Now by some gentle river's sacred spring;
Some love the camp, the clarion's joyous ring,
And battle, by the mother's soul abhorr'd.
See, patient waiting in the clear keen air,
The hunter, thoughtless of his delicate bride,
Whether the trusty hounds a stag have eyed,
Or the fierce Marsian boar has burst the snare.
To me the artist's meed, the ivy wreath
Is very heaven: me the sweet cool of woods,
Where Satyrs frolic with the Nymphs, secludes
From rabble rout, so but Euterpe's breath
Fail not the flute, nor Polyhymnia fly
Averse from stringing new the Lesbian lyre.
O, write my name among that minstrel choir,
And my proud head shall strike upon the sky!
Enough of snow and hail at last
The sire has sent in vengeance down:
His bolts, at his own temple cast,
Appall'd the town,
Appall'd the lands, lest Pyrrha's time
Return, with all its monstrous sights,
When Proteus led his flocks to climb
The flatten'd heights,
When fish were in the elm-tops caught,
Where once the stock-dove wont to bide,
And does were floating, all distraught,
Adown the tide.
Old Tiber, hurl'd in tumult back
From mingling with the Etruscan main,
Has threaten'd Numa's court with wrack
And Vesta's fane.
Roused by his Ilia's plaintive woes,
He vows revenge for guiltless blood,
And, spite of Jove, his banks o'erflows,
Yes, Fame shall tell of civic steel
That better Persian lives had spilt,
To youths, whose minish'd numbers feel
Their parents' guilt.
What god shall Rome invoke to stay
Her fall? Can suppliance overbear
The ear of Vesta, turn'd away
From chant and prayer?
Who comes, commission'd to atone
For crime like ours? at length appear,
A cloud round thy bright shoulders thrown,
Or Venus, laughter-loving dame,
Round whom gay Loves and Pleasures fly;
Or thou, if slighted sons may claim
A parent's eye,
O weary with thy long, long game,
Who lov'st fierce shouts and helmets bright,
And Moorish warrior's glance of flame
Or e'er he smite!
Or Maia's son, if now awhile
In youthful guise we see thee here,
Caesar's avenger—such the style
Thou deign'st to bear;
Late be thy journey home, and long
Thy sojourn with Rome's family;
Nor let thy wrath at our great wrong
Lend wings to fly.
Here take our homage, Chief and Sire;
Here wreathe with bay thy conquering brow,
And bid the prancing Mede retire,
Our Caesar thou!
Thus may Cyprus' heavenly queen,
Thus Helen's brethren, stars of brightest sheen,
Guide thee! May the sire of wind
Each truant gale, save only Zephyr, bind!
So do thou, fair ship, that ow'st
Virgil, thy precious freight, to Attic coast,
Safe restore thy loan and whole,
And save from death the partner of my soul!
Oak and brass of triple fold
Encompass'd sure that heart, which first made bold
To the raging sea to trust
A fragile bark, nor fear'd the Afric gust
With its Northern mates at strife,
Nor Hyads' frown, nor South-wind fury-rife,
Mightiest power that Hadria knows,
Wills he the waves to madden or compose.
What had Death in store to awe
Those eyes, that huge sea-beasts unmelting saw,
Saw the swelling of the surge,
And high Ceraunian cliffs, the seaman's scourge?
Heaven's high providence in vain
Has sever'd countries with the estranging main,
If our vessels ne'ertheless
With reckless plunge that sacred bar transgress.
Daring all, their goal to win,
Men tread forbidden ground, and rush on sin:
Daring all, Prometheus play'd
His wily game, and fire to man convey'd;
Soon as fire was stolen away,
Pale Fever's stranger host and wan Decay
Swept o'er earth's polluted face,
And slow Fate quicken'd Death's once halting pace.
Daedalus the void air tried
On wings, to humankind by Heaven denied;
Acheron's bar gave way with ease
Before the arm of labouring Hercules.
Nought is there for man too high;
Our impious folly e'en would climb the sky,
Braves the dweller on the steep,
Nor lets the bolts of heavenly vengeance sleep.
The touch of Zephyr and of Spring has loosen'd Winter's thrall;
The well-dried keels are wheel'd again to sea:
The ploughman cares not for his fire, nor cattle for their stall,
And frost no more is whitening all the lea.
Now Cytherea leads the dance, the bright moon overhead;
The Graces and the Nymphs, together knit,
With rhythmic feet the meadow beat, while Vulcan, fiery red,
Heats the Cyclopian forge in Aetna's pit.
'Tis now the time to wreathe the brow with branch of myrtle green,
Or flowers, just opening to the vernal breeze;
Now Faunus claims his sacrifice among the shady treen,
Lambkin or kidling, which soe'er he please.
Pale Death, impartial, walks his round: he knocks at cottage-gate
And palace-portal. Sestius, child of bliss!
How should a mortal's hopes be long, when short his being's date?
Lo here! the fabulous ghosts, the dark abyss,
The void of the Plutonian hall, where soon as e'er you go,
No more for you shall leap the auspicious die
To seat you on the throne of wine; no more your breast shall glow
For Lycidas, the star of every eye.
What slender youth, besprinkled with perfume,
Courts you on roses in some grotto's shade?
Fair Pyrrha, say, for whom
Your yellow hair you braid,
So trim, so simple! Ah! how oft shall he
Lament that faith can fail, that gods can change,
Viewing the rough black sea
With eyes to tempests strange,
Who now is basking in your golden smile,
And dreams of you still fancy-free, still kind,
Poor fool, nor knows the guile
Of the deceitful wind!
Woe to the eyes you dazzle without cloud
Untried! For me, they show in yonder fane
My dripping garments, vow'd
To Him who curbs the main.
Not I, but Varius:—he, of Homer's brood
A tuneful swan, shall bear you on his wing,
Your tale of trophies, won by field or flood,
Mighty alike to sing.
Not mine such themes, Agrippa; no, nor mine
To chant the Wrath that fill'd Pelides' breast,
Nor dark Ulysses' wanderings o'er the brine,
Nor Pelops' house unblest.
Vast were the task, I feeble; inborn shame,
And she, who makes the peaceful lyre submit,
Forbid me to impair great Caesar's fame
And yours by my weak wit.
But who may fitly sing of Mars array'd
In adamant mail, or Merion, black with dust
Of Troy, or Tydeus' son by Pallas' aid
Strong against gods to thrust?
Feasts are my theme, my warriors maidens fair,
Who with pared nails encounter youths in fight;
Be Fancy free or caught in Cupid's snare,
Her temper still is light.
Let others Rhodes or Mytilene sing,
Or Ephesus, or Corinth, set between
Two seas, or Thebes, or Delphi, for its king
Each famous, or Thessalian Tempe green;
There are who make chaste Pallas' virgin tower
The daily burden of unending song,
And search for wreaths the olive's rifled bower:
The praise of Juno sounds from many a tongue,
Telling of Argos' steeds, Mycenae's gold.
For me stern Sparta forges no such spell,
No, nor Larissa's plain of richest mould,
As bright Albunea echoing from her cell.
O headlong Anio! O Tiburnian groves,
And orchards saturate with shifting streams!
Look how the clear fresh south from heaven removes
The tempest, nor with rain perpetual teems!
You too be wise, my Plancus: life's worst cloud
Will melt in air, by mellow wine allay'd,
Dwell you in camps, with glittering banners proud,
Or 'neath your Tibur's canopy of shade.
When Teucer fled before his father's frown
From Salamis, they say his temples deep
He dipp'd in wine, then wreath'd with poplar crown,
And bade his comrades lay their grief to sleep:
“Where Fortune bears us, than my sire more kind,
There let us go, my own, my gallant crew.
'Tis Teucer leads, 'tis Teucer breathes the wind;
No more despair; Apollo's word is true.
Another Salamis in kindlier air
Shall yet arise. Hearts, that have borne with me
Worse buffets! drown today in wine your care;
To-morrow we recross the wide, wide sea!”
Lydia, by all above,
Why bear so hard on Sybaris, to ruin him with love?
What change has made him shun
The playing-ground, who once so well could bear the dust and sun?
Why does he never sit
On horseback in his company, nor with uneven bit
His Gallic courser tame?
Why dreads he yellow Tiber, as 'twould sully that fair frame?
Like poison loathes the oil,
His arms no longer black and blue with honourable toil,
He who erewhile was known
For quoit or javelin oft and oft beyond the limit thrown?
Why skulks he, as they say
Did Thetis' son before the dawn of Ilion's fatal day,
For fear the manly dress
Should fling him into danger's arms, amid the
See, how it stands, one pile of snow,
Soracte! 'neath the pressure yield
Its groaning woods; the torrents' flow
With clear sharp ice is all congeal'd.
Heap high the logs, and melt the cold,
Good Thaliarch; draw the wine we ask,
That mellower vintage, four-year-old,
From out the cellar'd Sabine cask.
The future trust with Jove; when he
Has still'd the warring tempests' roar
On the vex'd deep, the cypress-tree
And aged ash are rock'd no more.
O, ask not what the morn will bring,
But count as gain each day that chance
May give you; sport in life's young spring,
Nor scorn sweet love, nor merry dance,
While years are green, while sullen eld
Is distant. Now the walk, the game,
The whisper'd talk at sunset held,
Each in its hour, prefer their claim.
Sweet too the laugh, whose feign'd alarm
The hiding-place of beauty tells,
The token, ravish'd from the arm
Or finger, that but ill rebels.
Grandson of Atlas, wise of tongue,
O Mercury, whose wit could tame
Man's savage youth by power of song
And plastic game!
Thee sing I, herald of the sky,
Who gav'st the lyre its music sweet,
Hiding whate'er might please thine eye
In frolic cheat.
See, threatening thee, poor guileless child,
Apollo claims, in angry tone,
His cattle;—all at once he smiled,
His quiver gone.
Strong in thy guidance, Hector's sire
Escaped the Atridae, pass'd between
Thessalian tents and warders' fire,
Of all unseen,
Thou lay'st unspotted souls to rest;
Thy golden rod pale spectres know;
Blest power! by all thy brethren blest,
Ask not ('tis forbidden knowledge), what our destined term of years,
Mine and yours; nor scan the tables of your Babylonish seers.
Better far to bear the future, my Leuconoe, like the past,
Whether Jove has many winters yet to give, or this our last;
This, that makes the Tyrrhene billows spend their strength against the shore.
Strain your wine and prove your wisdom; life is short; should hope be more?
In the moment of our talking, envious time has ebb'd away.
Seize the present; trust tomorrow e'en as little as you may.
What man, what hero, Clio sweet,
On harp or flute wilt thou proclaim?
What god shall echo's voice repeat
In mocking game
To Helicon's sequester'd shade,
Or Pindus, or on Haemus chill,
Where once the hurrying woods obey'd
The minstrel's will,
Who, by his mother's gift of song,
Held the fleet stream, the rapid breeze,
And led with blandishment along
The listening trees?
Whom praise we first? the sire on high,
Who gods and men unerring guides,
Who rules the sea, the earth, the sky,
Their times and tides.
No mightier birth may he beget;
No like, no second has he known;
Yet nearest to her sire's is set
Nor yet shall Bacchus pass unsaid,
Bold warrior, nor the virgin foe
Of savage beasts, nor Phoebus, dread
With deadly bow.
Alcides too shall be my theme,
And Leda's twins, for horses he,
He famed for boxing; soon as gleam
Their stars at sea,
The lash'd spray trickles from the steep,
The wind sinks down, the storm-cloud flies,
The threatening billow on the deep
Shall now Quirinus take his turn,
Or quiet Numa, or the state
Proud Tarquin held, or Cato stern,
By death made great?
Ay, Regulus and the Scaurian name,
And Paullus, who at Cannae gave
His glorious soul, fair record claim,
For all were brave.
Thee, Furius, and Fabricius, thee,
Rough Curius too, with untrimm'd beard,
Your sires' transmitted poverty
To conquest rear'd.
Marcellus' fame, its up-growth hid,
Springs like a tree; great Julius' light
Shines, like the radiant moon amid
The lamps of night.
Dread Sire and Guardian of man's race,
To thee, O Jove, the Fates assign
Our Caesar's charge; his power and place
Be next to thine.
Whether the Parthian, threatening Rome,
His eagles scatter to the wind.
Or follow to their eastern home
Cathay and Ind,
Thy second let him rule below
Thy car shall shake the realms above;
Thy vengeful bolts shall overthrow
Each guilty grove.
Telephus—you praise him still,
His waxen arms, his rosy-tinted neck;
Ah! and all the while I thrill
With jealous pangs I cannot, cannot check
See, my colour comes and goes,
My poor heart flutters, Lydia, and the dew,
Down my cheek soft stealing, shows
What lingering torments rack me through and through.
Oh, 'tis agony te see
Those snowwhite shoulders scarr'd in drunken fray,
Or those ruby lips, where he
Has left strange marks, that show how rough his play!
Never, never look to find
A faithful heart in him whose rage can harm
Sweetest lips, which Venus kind
Has tinctured with her quintessential charm.
Happy, happy; happy they
Whose living love, untroubled by all strife,
Binds them till the last sad day,
Nor parts asunder but with parting life!
O luckless bark! new waves will force you back
To sea. O, haste to make the haven yours!
E'en now, a helpless wrack,
You drift, despoil'd of oars;
The Afric gale has dealt your mast a wound;
Your sailyards groan, nor can your keel sustain,
Till lash'd with cables round,
A more imperious main.
Your canvass hangs in ribbons, rent and torn;
No gods are left to pray to in fresh need.
A pine of Pontus born
Of noble forest breed,
You boast your name and lineage—madly blind
Can painted timbers quell a seaman's fear?
Beware! or else the wind
Makes you its mock and jeer.
Your trouble late made sick this heart of mine,
And still I love you, still am ill at ease.
O, shun the sea, where shine
The thick-sown Cyclades!
When the false swain was hurrying o'er the deep
His Spartan hostess in the Idaean bark,
Old Nereus laid the unwilling winds asleep,
That all to Fate might hark,
Speaking through him:—“Home in ill hour you take
A prize whom Greece shall claim with troops untold,
Leagued by an oath your marriage tie to break
And Priam's kingdom old.
Alas! what deaths you launch on Dardan realm!
What tolls are waiting, man and horse to tire!
See! Pallas trims her aegis and her helm,
Her chariot and her ire.
Vainly shall you; in Venus' favour strong,
Your tresses comb, and for your dames divide
On peaceful lyre the several parts of song;
Vainly in chamber hide
From spears and Gnossian arrows, barb'd with fate,
And battle's din, and Ajax in the chase
Unconquer'd; those adulterous locks, though late,
Shall gory dust deface.
Hark! 'tis the death-cry of your race! look back!
Ulysses comes, and Pylian Nestor grey;
See! Salaminian Teucer on your track,
And Sthenelus, in the fray
Versed, or with whip and rein, should need require,
No laggard. Merion too your eyes shall know
From far. Tydides, fiercer than his sire,
Pursues you, all aglow;
Him, as the stag forgets to graze for fright,
Seeing the wolf at distance in the glade,
And flies, high panting, you shall fly, despite
Boasts to your leman made.
What though Achilles' wrathful fleet postpone
The day of doom to Troy and Troy's proud dames,
Her towers shall fall, the number'd winters flown,
Wrapp'd in Achaenan flames.”
O lovelier than the lovely dame
That bore you, sentence as you please
Those scurril verses, be it flame
Your vengeance craves, or Hadrian seas.
Not Cybele, nor he that haunts
Rich Pytho, worse the brain confounds,
Not Bacchus, nor the Corybants
Clash their loud gongs with fiercer sounds
Than savage wrath; nor sword nor spear
Appals it, no, nor ocean's frown,
Nor ravening fire, nor Jupiter
In hideous ruin crashing down.
Prometheus, forced, they say, to add
To his prime clay some favourite part
From every kind, took lion mad,
And lodged its gall in man's poor heart.
'Twas wrath that laid Thyestes low;
'Tis wrath that oft destruction calls
On cities, and invites the foe
To drive his plough o'er ruin'd walls.
Then calm your spirit; I can tell
How once, when youth in all my veins
Was glowing, blind with rage, I fell
On friend and foe in ribald strains.
Come, let me change my sour for sweet,
And smile complacent as before:
Hear me my palinode repeat,
And give me back your heart once more.
The pleasures of Lucretilis
Tempt Faunus from his Grecian seat;
He keeps my little goats in bliss
Apart from wind, and rain, and heat.
In safety rambling o'er the sward
For arbutes and for thyme they peer,
The ladies of the unfragrant lord,
Nor vipers, green with venom, fear,
Nor savage wolves, of Mars' own breed,
My Tyndaris, while Ustica's dell
Is vocal with the silvan reed,
And music thrills the limestone fell.
Heaven is my guardian; heaven approves
A blameless life, by song made sweet;
Come hither, and the fields and groves
Their horn shall empty at your feet.
Here, shelter'd by a friendiy tree,
In Teian measures you shall sing
Bright Circe and Penelope,
Love-smitten both by one sharp sting.
Here shall you quaff beneath the shade
Sweet Lesbian draughts that injure none,
Nor fear lest Mars the realm invade
Of Semele's Thyonian son,
Lest Cyrus on a foe too weak
Lay the rude hand of wild excess,
His passion on your chaplet wreak,
Or spoil your undeserving dress.
Varus, are your trees in planting? put in none before the vine,
In the rich domain of Tibur, by the walls of Catilus;
There's a power above that hampers all that sober brains design,
And the troubles man is heir to thus are quell'd, and only thus.
Who can talk of want or warfare when the wine is in his head,
Not of thee, good father Bacchus, and of Venus fair and bright?
But should any dream of licence, there's a lesson may be read,
How 'twas wine that drove the Centaurs with the Lapithae to fight.
And the Thracians too may warn us; truth and falsehood, good and ill,
How they mix them, when the wine-god's hand is heavy on them laid!
Never, never, gracious Bacchus, may I move thee 'gainst thy will,
Or uncover what is hidden in the verdure of thy shade!
Silence thou thy savage cymbals, and the Berecyntine horn;
In their train Self-love still follows, dully, desperately blind,
And Vain-glory, towering upwards in its emptyheaded scorn,
And the Faith that keeps no secrets, with a window in its mind.
Cupid's mother, cruel dame,
And Semele's Theban boy, and Licence bold,
Bid me kindle into flame
This heart, by waning passion now left cold.
O, the charms of Glycera,
That hue, more dazzling than the Parian stone!
O, that sweet tormenting play,
That too fair face, that blinds when look'd upon!
Venus comes in all her might,
Quits Cyprus for my heart, nor lets me tell
Of the Parthian, bold in flight,
Nor Scythian hordes, nor aught that breaks her spell.
Heap the grassy altar up,
Bring vervain, boys, and sacred frankincense;
Fill the sacrificial cup;
A victim's blood will soothe her vehemence.
Not large my cups, nor rich my cheer,
This Sabine wine, which erst I seal'd,
That day the applauding theatre
Your welcome peal'd,
Dear knight Maecenas! as 'twere fain
That your paternal river's banks,
And Vatican, in sportive strain,
Should echo thanks.
For you Calenian grapes are press'd,
And Caecuban; these cups of mine
Falernum's bounty ne'er has bless'd,
Nor Formian vine.
Of Dian's praises, tender maidens, tell;
Of Cynthus' unshorn god, young striplings, sing;
And bright Latona, well
Beloved of Heaven's high king.
Sing her that streams and silvan foliage loves,
Whate'er on Algidus' chill brow is seen,
In Erymanthian groves
Dark-leaved, or Cragus green.
Sing Tempe too, glad youths, in strain as loud,
And Phoebus' birthplace, and that shoulder fair,
His golden quiver proud
And brother's lyre to bear.
His arm shall banish Hunger, Plague, and War
To Persia and to Britain's coast, away
From Rome and Caesar far,
If you have zeal to pray.
No need of Moorish archer's craft
To guard the pure and stainless liver;
He wants not, Fuscus, poison'd shaft
To store his quiver,
Whether he traverse Libyan shoals,
Or Caucasus, forlorn and horrent,
Or lands where far Hydaspes rolls
His fabled torrent.
A wolf, while roaming trouble-free
In Sabine wood, as fancy led me,
Unarm'd I sang my Lalage,
Beheld, and fled me.
Dire monster! in her broad oak woods
Fierce Daunia fosters none such other,
Nor Juba's land, of lion broods
The thirsty mother.
Place me where on the ice-bound plain
No tree is cheer'd by summer breezes,
Where Jove descends in sleety rain
Or sullen freezes;
Place me where none can live for heat,
'Neath Phoebus' very chariot plant me,
That smile so sweet, that voice so sweet,
Shall still enchant me.
You fly me, Chloe, as o'er trackless hills
A young fawn runs her timorous dam to find,
Whom empty terror thrills
Of woods and whispering wind.
Whether 'tis Spring's first shiver, faintly heard
Through the light leaves, or lizards in the brake
The rustling thorns have stirr'd,
Her heart, her knees, they quake.
Yet I, who chase you, no grim lion am,
No tiger fell, to crush you in my gripe:
Come, learn to leave your dam.
For lover's kisses ripe.
Why blush to let our tears unmeasured fall
For one so dear? Begin the mournful stave,
Melpomene, to whom the sire of all
Sweet voice with music gave.
And sleeps he then the heavy sleep of death,
Quintilius? Piety, twin sister dear
Of Justice! naked Truth! unsullied Faith!
When will ye find his peer?
By many a good man wept, Quintilius dies;
By none than you, my Virgil, trulier wept:
Devout in vain, you chide the faithless skies,
Asking your loan ill-kept.
No, though more suasive than the bard of Thrace
You swept the lyre that trees were fain to hear,
Ne'er should the blood revisit his pale face
Whom once with wand severe
Mercury has folded with the sons of night,
Untaught to prayer Fate's prison to unseal.
Ah, heavy grief! but patience makes more light
What sorrow may not heal.
The Muses love me: fear and grief,
The winds may blow them to the sea;
Who quail before the wintry chief
Of Scythia's realm, is nought to me.
What cloud o'er Tiridates lowers,
I care not, I. O, nymph divine
Of virgin springs, with sunniest flowers
A chaplet for my Lamia twine,
Pimplea sweet! my praise were vain
Without thee. String this maiden lyre,
Attune for him the Lesbian strain,
O goddess, with thy sister quire!
What, fight with cups that should give joy?
'Tis barbarous; leave such savage ways
To Thracians. Bacchus, shamefaced boy,
Is blushing at your bloody frays.
The Median sabre! lights and wine!
Was stranger contrast ever seen?
Cease, cease this brawling, comrades mine,
And still upon your elbows lean.
Well, shall I take a toper's part
Of fierce Falernian? let our guest,
Megilla's brother, say what dart
Gave the death-wound that makes him blest.
He hesitates? no other hire
Shall tempt my sober brains. Whate'er
The goddess tames you, no base fire
She kindles; 'tis some gentle fair
Allures you still. Come, tell me truth,
And trust my honour—That the name?
That wild Charybdis yours? Poor youth!
O, you deserved a better flame!
What wizard, what Thessalian spell,
What god can save you, hamper'd thus?
To cope with this Chimaera fell
Would task another Pegasus.
The sea, the earth, the innumerable sand,
Archytas, thou couldst measure; now, alas!
A little dust on Matine shore has spann'd
That soaring spirit; vain it was to pass
The gates of heaven, and send thy soul in quest
O'er air's wide realms; for thou hadst yet to die.
Ay, dead is Pelops' father, heaven's own guest,
And old Tithonus, rapt from earth to sky,
And Minos, made the council-friend of Jove;
And Panthus' son has yielded up his breath
Once more, though down he pluck'd the shield, to prove
His prowess under Troy, and bade grim death
O'er skin and nerves alone exert its power,
Not he, you grant, in nature meanly read.
Yes, all “await the inevitable hour;”
The downward journey all one day must tread.
Some bleed, to glut the war-god's savage eyes;
Fate meets the sailor from the hungry brine;
Youth jostles age in funeral obsequies;
Each brow in turn is touch'd by Proserpine.
Me, too, Orion's mate, the Southern blast,
Whelm'd in deep death beneath the Illyrian wave.
But grudge not, sailor, of driven sand to cast
A handful on my head, that owns no grave.
So, though the eastern tempests loudly threat
Hesperia's main, may green Venusia's crown
Be stripp'd, while you lie warm; may blessings yet
Stream from Tarentum's guard, great Neptune, down,
And gracious Jove, into your open lap!
What! shrink you not from crime whose punishment
Falls on your innocent children? it may hap
Imperious Fate will make yourself repent.
My prayers shall reach the avengers of all wrong;
No expiations shall the curse unbind.
Great though your haste, I would not task you long;
Thrice sprinkle dust, then scud before the wind.
Your heart on Arab wealth is set,
Good Iccius: you would try your steel
On Saba's kings, unconquerd yet,
And make the Mede your fetters feel.
Come, tell me what barbarian fair
Will serve you now, her bridegroom slain?
What page from court with essenced hair
Will tender you the bowl you drain,
Well skill'd to bend the Serian bow
His father carried? Who shall say
That rivers may not uphill flow,
And Tiber's self return one day,
If you would change Panaetius' works,
That costly purchase, and the clan
Of Socrates, for shields and dirks,
Whom once we thought a saner man?
Come, Cnidian, Paphian Venus, come,
Thy well-beloved Cyprus spurn,
Haste, where for thee in Glycera's home
Sweet odours burn.
Bring too thy Cupid, glowing warm,
Graces and Nymphs, unzoned and free,
And Youth, that lacking thee lacks charm,
What blessing shall the bard entreat
The god he hallows, as he pours
The winecup? Not the mounds of wheat
That load Sardinian threshing floors;
Not Indian gold or ivory—no,
Nor flocks that o'er Calabria stray,
Nor fields that Liris, still and slow,
Is eating, unperceived, away.
Let those whose fate allows them train
Calenum's vine; let trader bold
From golden cups rich liquor drain
For wares of Syria bought and sold,
Heaven's favourite, sooth, for thrice a year
He comes and goes across the brine
Undamaged. I in plenty here
On endives, mallows, succory dine.
O grant me, Phoebus, calm content,
Strength unimpaird, a mind entire,
Old age without dishonour spent,
Nor unbefriended by the lyre!
They call;—if aught in shady dell
We twain have warbled, to remain
Long months or years, now breathe, my shell,
A Roman strain,
Thou, strung by Lesbos' minstrel hand,
The bard, who 'mid the clash of steel,
Or haply mooring to the strand
His batter'd keel,
Of Bacchus and the Muses sung,
And Cupid, still at Venus' side,
And Lycus, beautiful and young,
O sweetest lyre, to Phoebus dear,
Delight of Jove's high festival,
Blest balm in trouble, hail and hear
Whene'er I call!
What, Albius! why this passionate despair
For cruel Glycera? why melt your voice
In dolorous strains, because the perjured fair
Has made a younger choice?
See, narrow-brow'd Lycoris, how she glows
For Cyrus! Cyrus turns away his head
To Pholoe's frown; but sooner gentle roes
Apulian wolves shall wed,
Than Pholoe to so mean a conqueror strike:
So Venus wills it; 'neath her brazen yoke
She loves to couple forms and minds unlike,
All for a heartless joke.
For me sweet Love had forged a milder spell;
But Myrtale still kept me her fond slave,
More stormy she than the tempestuous swell
That crests Calabria's wave.
My prayers were scant, my offerings few,
While witless wisdom fool'd my mind;
But now I trim my sails anew,
And trace the course I left behind.
For lo! the sire of heaven on high,
By whose fierce bolts the clouds are riven,
Today through an unclouded sky
His thundering steeds and car has driven.
E'en now dull earth and wandering floods,
And Atlas' limitary range,
And Styx, and Taenarus' dark abodes
Are reeling. He can lowliest change
And loftiest; bring the mighty down
And lift the weak; with whirring flight
Comes Fortune, plucks the monarch's crown,
And decks therewith some meaner wight.
Lady of Antium, grave and stern!
O Goddess, who canst lift the low
To high estate, and sudden turn
A triumph to a funeral show!
Thee the poor hind that tills the soil
Implores; their queen they own in thee,
Who in Bithynian vessel toil
Amid the vex'd Carpathian sea.
Thee Dacians fierce, and Scythian hordes,
Peoples and towns, and Rome, their head,
And mothers of barbarian lords,
And tyrants in their purple dread,
Lest, spurn'd by thee in scorn, should fall
The state's tall prop, lest crowds on fire
To arms, to arms! the loiterers call,
And thrones be tumbled in the mire.
Necessity precedes thee still
With hard fierce eyes and heavy tramp:
Her hand the nails and wedges fill,
The molten lead and stubborn clamp.
Hope, precious Truth in garb of white,
Attend thee still, nor quit thy side
When with changed robes thou tak'st thy flight
In anger from the homes of pride.
Then the false herd, the faithless fair,
Start backward; when the wine runs dry.
The jocund guests, too light to bear
An equal yoke, asunder fly.
O shield our Caesar as he goes
To furthest Britain, and his band,
Rome's harvest! Send on Eastern foes
Their fear, and on the Red Sea strand!
O wounds that scarce have ceased to run!
O brother's blood! O iron time!
What horror have we left undone?
Has conscience shrunk from aught of crime?
What shrine has rapine held in awe?
What altar spared? O haste and beat
The blunted steel we yet may draw
On Arab and on Massagete!
Bid the lyre and cittern play;
Enkindle incense, shed the victim's gore;
Heaven has watch'd o'er Numida,
And brings him safe from far Hispania's shore.
Now, returning, he bestows
On each dear comrade all the love he can;
But to Lamia most he owes,
By whose sweet side he grew from boy to man.
Note we in our calendar
This festal day with whitest mark from Crete:
Let it flow, the old wine-jar,
And ply to Salian time your restless feet.
Damalis tosses off her wine,
But Bassus sure must prove her match tonight.
Give us roses all to twine,
And parsley green, and lilies deathly white.
Every melting eye will rest
On Damalis' lovely face; but none may part
Damalis from our new-found guest;
She clings, and clings, like ivy, round his heart.
Now drink we deep, now featly tread
A measure; now before each shrine
With Salian feasts the table spread;
The time invites us, comrades mine.
'Twas shame to broach, before today,
The Caecuban, while Egypt's dame
Threaten'd our power in dust to lay
And wrap the Capitol in flame,
Girt with her foul emasculate throng,
By Fortune's sweet new wine befool'd,
In hope's ungovern'd weakness strong
To hope for all; but soon she cool'd,
To see one ship from burning 'scape;
Great Caesar taught her dizzy brain,
Made mad by Mareotic grape,
To feel the sobering truth of pain,
And gave her chase from Italy,
As after doves fierce falcons speed,
As hunters 'neath Haemonia's sky
Chase the tired hare, so might he lead
The fiend enchain'd; she sought to die
More nobly, nor with woman's dread
Quail'd at the steel, nor timorously
In her fleet ships to covert fled.
Amid her ruin'd halls she stood
Unblench'd, and fearless to the end
Grasp'd the fell snakes, that all her blood
Might with the cold black venom blend,
Death's purpose flushing in her face;
Nor to our ships the glory gave,
That she, no vulgar dame, should grace
A triumph, crownless, and a slave.
No Persian cumber, boy, for me;
I hate your garlands linden-plaited;
Leave winter's rose where on the tree
It hangs belated.
Wreath me plain myrtle; never think
Plain myrtle either's wear unfitting,
Yours as you wait, mine as I drink
In vine-bower sitting.
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