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Full well had Danae been secured, in truth,
By oaken portals, and a brazen tower,
And savage watch-dogs, from the roving youth
That prowl at midnight's hour:
But Jove and Venus mock'd with gay disdain
The jealous warder of that close stronghold:
The way, they knew, must soon be smooth and plain
When gods could change to gold.
Gold, gold can pass the tyrant's sentinel,
Can shiver rocks with more resistless blow
Than is the thunder's. Argos' prophet fell,
He and his house laid low,
And all for gain. The man of Macedon
Cleft gates of cities, rival kings o'erthrew
By force of gifts: their cunning snares have won
Rude captains and their crew.
As riches grow, care follows: men repine
And thirst for more. No lofty crest I raise:
Wisdom that thought forbids, Maecenas mine,
The knightly order's praise.
He that denies himself shall gain the more
From bounteous Heaven. I strip me of my pride,
Desert the rich man's standard, and pass o'er
To bare Contentment's side,
More proud as lord of what the great despise
Than if the wheat thresh'd on Apulia's floor
I hoarded all in my huge granaries,
'Mid vast possessions poor.
A clear fresh stream, a little field o'ergrown
With shady trees, a crop that ne'er deceives,
Pass, though men know it not, their wealth, that own
All Afric's golden sheaves.
Though no Calabrian bees their honey yield
For me, nor mellowing sleeps the god of wine
In Formian jar, nor in Gaul's pasture-field
The wool grows long and fine,
Yet Poverty ne'er comes to break my peace;
If more I craved, you would not more refuse.
Desiring less, I better shall increase
My tiny revenues,
Than if to Alyattes' wide domains
I join'd the realms of Mygdon. Great desires
Sort with great wants. 'Tis best, when prayer obtains
No more than life requires.
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