THE ODES AND CARMEN SAECULARE OF HORACE
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE BY JOHN CONINGTON, M.A. CORPUS PROFESSOR OF LATIN IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
I scarcely know what excuse I can offer for making public this attempt to "translate the untranslatable." No one can be more convinced than I am that a really successful translator must be himself an original poet; and where the author translated happens to be one whose special characteristic is incommunicable grace of expression, the demand on the translator's powers would seem to be indefinitely increased. Yet the time appears to be gone by when men of great original gifts could find satisfaction in reproducing the thoughts and words of others; and the work, if done at all, must now be done by writers of inferior pretension. Among these, however, there are still degrees; and the experience which I have gained since I first adventured as a poetical translator has made me doubt whether I may not be ill-advised in resuming the experiment under any circumstances. Still, an experiment of this kind may have an advantage of its own, even when it is unsuccessful; it may serve as a piece of embodied criticism, showing what the experimenter conceived to be the conditions of success, and may thus, to borrow Horace's own metaphor of the whetstone, impart to others a quality which it is itself without. Perhaps I may be allowed, for a few moments, to combine precept with example, and imitate my distinguished friend and colleague, Professor Arnold, in offering some counsels to the future translator of Horace's Odes, referring, at the same time, by way of illustration, to my own attempt.
The first thing at which, as it seems to me, a Horatian translator ought to aim, is some kind of metrical conformity to his original. Without this we are in danger of losing not only the metrical, but the general effect of the Latin; we express ourselves in a different compass, and the character of the expression is altered accordingly. For instance, one of Horace's leading features is his occasional sententiousness. It is this, perhaps more than anything else, that has made him a storehouse of quotations. He condenses a general truth in a few words, and thus makes his wisdom portable. "Non, si male nunc, et olim sic erit;" "Nihil est ab omni parte beatum;" "Omnes eodem cogimur,"—these and similar expressions remain in the memory when other features of Horace's style, equally characteristic, but less obvious, are forgotten. It is almost impossible for a translator to do justice to this sententious brevity unless the stanza in which he writes is in some sort analogous to the metre of Horace. If he chooses a longer and more diffuse measure, he will be apt to spoil the proverb by expansion; not to mention that much will often depend on the very position of the sentence in the stanza. Perhaps, in order to preserve these external peculiarities, it may be necessary to recast the expression, to substitute, in fact, one form of proverb for another; but this is far preferable to retaining the words in a diluted form, and so losing what gives them their character, I cannot doubt, then, that it is necessary in translating an Ode of Horace to choose some analogous metre; as little can I doubt that a translator of the Odes should appropriate to each Ode some particular metre as its own. It may be true that Horace himself does not invariably suit his metre to his subject; the solemn Alcaic is used for a poem in dispraise of serious thought and praise of wine; the Asclepiad stanza in which Quintilius is lamented is employed to describe the loves of Maecenas and Licymnia. But though this consideration may influence us in our choice of an English metre, it is no reason for not adhering to the one which we may have chosen. If we translate an Alcaic and a Sapphic Ode into the same English measure, because the feeling in both appears to be the same, we are sure to sacrifice some important characteristic of the original in the case of one or the other, perhaps of both. It is better to try to make an English metre more flexible than to use two different English metres to represent two different aspects of one measure in Latin. I am sorry to say that I have myself deviated from this rule occasionally, under circumstances which I shall soon have to explain; but though I may perhaps succeed in showing that my offences have not been serious, I believe the rule itself to be one of universal application, always honoured in the observance, if not always equally dishonoured in the breach.
The question, what metres should be selected, is of course one of very great difficulty. I can only explain what my own practice has been, with some of the reasons which have influenced me in particular cases. Perhaps we may take Milton's celebrated translation of the Ode to Pyrrha as a starting point. There can be no doubt that to an English reader the metre chosen does give much of the effect of the original; yet the resemblance depends rather on the length of the respective lines than on any similarity in the cadences. But it is evident that he chose the iambic movement as the ordinary movement of English poetry; and it is evident, I think, that in translating Horace we shall be right in doing the same, as a general rule. Anapaestic and other rhythms may be beautiful and appropriate in themselves, but they cannot be manipulated so easily; the stanzas with which they are associated bear no resemblance, as stanzas, to the stanzas of Horace's Odes. I have then followed Milton in appropriating the measure in question to the Latin metre, technically called the fourth Asclepiad, at the same time that I have substituted rhyme for blank verse, believing rhyme to be an inferior artist's only chance of giving pleasure. There still remains a question about the distribution of the rhymes, which here, as in most other cases, I have chosen to make alternate. Successive rhymes have their advantages, but they do not give the effect of interlinking, which is so natural in a stanza; the quatrain is reduced to two couplets, and its unity is gone. From the fourth to the third Asclepiad the step is easy. Taking an English iambic line of ten syllables to represent the longer lines of the Latin, an English iambic line of six syllables to represent the shorter, we see that the metre of Horace's "Scriberis Vario" finds its representative in the metre of Mr. Tennyson's "Dream of Fair Women." My experience would lead me to believe the English metre to be quite capable, in really skilful hands, of preserving the effect of the Latin, though, as I have said above, the Latin measure is employed by Horace both for a threnody and for a love-song.
The Sapphic and the Alcaic involve more difficult questions. Here, however, as in the Asclepiad, I believe we must be guided, to some extent, by external similarity. We must choose the iambic movement as being most congenial to English; we must avoid the ten-syllable iambic as already appropriated to the longer Asclepiad line. This leads me to conclude that the staple of each stanza should be the eight-syllable iambic, a measure more familiar to English lyric poetry than any other, and as such well adapted to represent the most familiar lyric measures of Horace. With regard to the Sapphic, it seems desirable that it should be represented by a measure of which the three first lines are eight-syllable iambics, the fourth some shorter variety. Of this stanza there are at least two kinds for which something might be said. It might be constructed so that the three first lines should rhyme with each other, the fourth being otherwise dealt with; or it might be framed on the plan of alternate rhymes, the fourth line still being shorter than the rest. Of the former kind two or three specimens are to be found in Francis' translation of Horace. In these the fourth line consists of but three syllables, the two last of which rhyme with the two last syllables of the fourth line of the next succeeding stanza, as for instance:—
You shoot; she whets her tusks to bite; While he who sits to judge the fight Treads on the palm with foot so white, Disdainful, And sweetly floating in the air Wanton he spreads his fragrant hair, Like Ganymede or Nireus fair, And vainful.
It would be possible, no doubt, to produce verses better adapted to recommend the measure than these stanzas, which are, however, the best that can be quoted from Francis; it might be possible, too, to suggest some improvement in the structure of the fourth line. But, however managed, this stanza would, I think, be open to two serious objections; the difficulty of finding three suitable rhymes for each stanza, and the difficulty of disposing of the fourth line, which, if made to rhyme with the fourth line of the next stanza, produces an awkwardness in the case of those Odes which consist of an odd number of stanzas (a large proportion of the whole amount), if left unrhymed, creates an obviously disagreeable effect. We come then to the other alternative, the stanza with alternate rhymes. Here the question is about the fourth line, which may either consist of six syllables, like Coleridge's Fragment, "O leave the lily on its stem," or of four, as in Pope's youthful "Ode on Solitude," these types being further varied by the addition of an extra syllable to form a double rhyme. Of these the four-syllable type seems to me the one to be preferred, as giving the effect of the Adonic better than if it had been two syllables longer. The double rhyme has, I think, an advantage over the single, were it not for its greater difficulty. Much as English lyric poetry owes to double rhymes, a regular supply of them is not easy to procure; some of them are apt to be cumbrous, such as words in-ATION; others, such as the participial-ING (DYING, FLYING, &c.), spoil the language of poetry, leading to the employment of participles where participles are not wanted, and of verbal substantives that exist nowhere else. My first intention was to adopt the double rhyme in this measure, and I accordingly executed three Odes on that plan (Book I. Odes 22, 38; Book II. Ode 16); afterwards I abandoned it, and contented myself with the single rhyme. On the whole, I certainly think this measure answers sufficiently well to the Latin Sapphic; but I have felt its brevity painfully in almost every Ode that I have attempted, being constantly obliged to omit some part of the Latin which I would gladly have preserved. The great number of monosyllables in English is of course a reason for acquiescing in lines shorter than the corresponding lines in Latin; but even in English polysyllables are often necessary, and still oftener desirable on grounds of harmony; and an allowance of twenty-eight syllables of English for thirty-eight of Latin is, after all, rather short.
For the place of the Alcaic there are various candidates. Mr. Tennyson has recently invented a measure which, if not intended to reproduce the Alcaic, was doubtless suggested by it, that which appears in his poem of "The Daisy," and, in a slightly different form, in the "Lines to Mr. Maurice." The two last lines of the latter form of the stanza are indeed evidently copied from the Alcaic, with the simple omission of the last syllable of the last line of the original. Still, as a whole, I doubt whether this form would be as suitable, at least for a dignified Ode, as the other, where the initial iambic in the last line, substituted for a trochec, makes the movement different. I was deterred, however, from attempting either, partly by a doubt whether either had been sufficiently naturalized in English to be safely practised by an unskilful hand, partly by the obvious difficulty of having to provide three rhymes per stanza, against which the occurrence of one line in each without a rhyme at all was but a poor set-off. A second metre which occurred to me is that of Andrew Marvel's Horatian Ode, a variety of which is found twice in Mr. Keble's Christian Year. Here two lines of eight syllables are followed by two of six, the difference between the types being that in Marvel's Ode the rhymes are successive, in Mr. Keble's alternate. The external correspondence between this and the Alcaic is considerable; but the brevity of the English measure struck me at once as a fatal obstacle, and I did not try to encounter it. A third possibility is the stanza of "In Memoriam," which has been adopted by the clever author of "Poems and Translations, by C. S. C.," in his version of "Justum et tenacem." I think it very probable that this will be found eventually to be the best representation of the Alcaic in English, especially as it appears to afford facilities for that linking of stanza to stanza which one who wishes to adhere closely to the logical and rhythmical structure of the Latin soon learns to desire. But I have not adopted it; and I believe there is good reason for not doing so. With all its advantages, it has the patent disadvantage of having been brought into notice by a poet who is influencing the present generation as only a great living poet can. A great writer now, an inferior writer hereafter, may be able to handle it with some degree of independence; but the majority of those who use it at present are sure in adopting Mr. Tennyson's metre to adopt his manner. It is no reproach to "C. S. C." that his Ode reminds us of Mr. Tennyson; it is a praise to him that the recollection is a pleasant one. But Mr. Tennyson's manner is not the manner of Horace, and it is the manner of a contemporary; the expression—a most powerful and beautiful expression—of influences to which a translator of an ancient classic feels himself to be too much subjected already. What is wanted is a metre which shall have other associations than those of the nineteenth century, which shall be the growth of various periods of English poetry, and so be independent of any. Such a metre is that which I have been led to choose, the eight-syllable iambic with alternate rhymes. It is one of the commonest metres in the language, and for that reason it is adapted to more than one class of subjects, to the gay as well as to the grave. But I am mistaken if it is not peculiarly suited to express that concentrated grandeur, that majestic combination of high eloquence with high poetry, which make the early Alcaic Odes of Horace's Third Book what they are to us. The main difficulty is in accommodating its structure to that of the Latin, of varying the pauses, and of linking stanza to stanza. It is a difficulty before which I have felt myself almost powerless, and I have in consequence been driven to the natural expedient of weakness, compromise, sometimes evading it, sometimes coping with it unsuccessfully. In other respects I may be allowed to say that I have found the metre pleasanter to handle than any of the others that I have attempted, except, perhaps, that of "The Dream of Fair Women." The proportion of syllables in each stanza of English to each stanza of Latin is not much greater than in the case of the Sapphic, thirty-two against forty-one; yet, except in a few passages, chiefly those containing proper names, I have had no disagreeable sense of confinement. I believe the reason of this to be that the Latin Alcaic generally contains fewer words in proportion than the Latin Sapphic, the former being favourable to long words, the latter to short ones, as may be seen by contrasting such lines as "Dissentientis conditionibus" with such as "Dona praesentis rape laetus horae ac." This, no doubt, shows that there is an inconvenience in applying the same English iambic measure to two metres which differ so greatly in their practical result; but so far as I can see at present, the evil appears to be one of those which it is wiser to submit to than to attempt to cure.
The problem of finding English representatives for the other Horatian metres, if a more difficult, is a less important one. The most pressing case is that of the metre known as the second Asclepiad, the "Sic te diva potens Cypri." With this, I fear, I shall be thought to have dealt rather capriciously, having rendered it by four different measures, three of them, however, varieties of the same general type. It so happens that the first Ode which I translated was the celebrated Amoebean Poem, the dialogue between Horace and Lydia. I had had at that time not the most distant notion of translating the whole of the Odes, or even any considerable number of them, so that in choosing a metre I thought simply of the requirements of the Ode in question, not of those of the rest of its class. Indeed, I may say that it was the thought of the metre which led me to try if I could translate the Ode. Having accomplished my attempt, I turned to another Ode of the same class, the scarcely less celebrated "Quem tu, Melpomene." For this I took a different metre, which happens to be identical with that of a solitary Ode in the Second Book, "Non ebur neque aureum," being guided still by my feeling about the individual Ode, not by any more general considerations. I did not attempt a third until I had proceeded sufficiently far in my undertaking to see that I should probably continue to the end. Then I had to consider the question of a uniform metre to answer to the Latin. Both of those which I had already tried were rendered impracticable by a double rhyme, which, however manageable in one or two Odes, is unmanageable, as I have before intimated, in the case of a large number. The former of the two measures, divested of the double rhyme, would, I think, lose most of its attractiveness; the latter suffers much less from the privation: the latter accordingly I chose. The trochaic character of the first line seems to me to give it an advantage over any metre composed of pure iambics, if it were only that it discriminates it from those alternate ten-syllable and eight-syllable iambics into which it would be natural to render many of the Epodes. At the same time, it did not appear worth while to rewrite the two Odes already translated, merely for the sake of uniformity, as the principle of correspondence to the Latin, the alternation of longer and shorter lines, is really the same in all three cases. Nay, so tentative has been my treatment of the whole matter, that I have even translated one Ode, the third of Book I, into successive rather than into alternate rhymes, so that readers may judge of the comparative effect of the two varieties. After this confession of irregularity, I need scarcely mention that on coming to the Ode which had suggested the metre in its unmutilated state, I translated it into the mutilated form, not caring either to encounter the inconvenience of the double rhymes, or to make confusion worse confounded by giving it, what it has in the Latin, a separate form of its own.
The remaining metres may be dismissed in a very few words. As a general rule, I have avoided couplets of any sort, and chosen some kind of stanza. As a German critic has pointed out, all the Odes of Horace, with one doubtful exception, may be reduced to quatrains; and though this peculiarity does not, so far as we can see, affect the character of any of the Horatian metres (except, of course, those that are written in stanzas), or influence the structure of the Latin, it must be considered as a happy circumstance for those who wish to render Horace into English. In respect of restraint, indeed, the English couplet may sometimes be less inconvenient than the quatrain, as it is, on the whole, easier to run couplet into couplet than to run quatrain into quatrain; but the couplet seems hardly suitable for an English lyrical poem of any length, the very notion of lyrical poetry apparently involving a complexity which can only be represented by rhymes recurring at intervals. In the case of one of the three poems written by Horace in the measure called the greater Asclepiad, ("Tu ne quoesieris,") I have adopted the couplet; in another ("Nullam, Vare,") the quatrain, the determining reason in the two cases being the length of the two Odes, the former of which consists but of eight lines, the latter of sixteen. The metre which I selected for each is the thirteen- syllable trochaic of "Locksley Hall;" and it is curious to observe the different effect of the metre according as it is written in two lines or in four. In the "Locksley Hall" couplet its movement is undoubtedly trochaic; but when it is expanded into a quatrain, as in Mrs. Browning's poem of "Lady Geraldine's Courtship," the movement changes, and instead of a more or less equal stress on the alternate syllables, the full ictus is only felt in one syllable out of every four; in ancient metrical language the metre becomes Ionic a minore. This very Ionic a minore is itself, I need not say, the metre of a single Ode in the Third Book, the "Miserarum est," and I have devised a stanza for it, taking much more pains with the apportionment of the ictus than in the case of the trochaic quatrain, which is better able to modulate itself. I have also ventured to invent a metre for that technically known as the Fourth Archilochian, the "Solvitur acris hiems," by combining the fourteen-syllable with the ten-syllable iambic in an alternately rhyming stanza. [Footnote: I may be permitted to mention that Lord Derby, in a volume of Translations printed privately before the appearance of this work, has employed the same measure in rendering the same Ode, the only difference being that his rhymes are not alternate, but successive.] The First Archilochian, "Diffugere nives," I have represented by a combination of the ten-syllable with the four- syllable iambic. For the so-called greater Sapphic, the "Lydia, die per omnes" I have made another iambic combination, the six-syllable with the fourteen-syllable, arranged as a couplet. The choriambic I thought might be exchanged for a heroic stanza, in which the first line should rhyme with the fourth, the second with the third, a kind of "In Memoriam" elongated. Lastly, I have chosen the heroic quatrain proper, the metre of Gray's "Elegy," for the two Odes in the First Book written in what is called the Metrum Alcmanium, "Laudabunt alii," and "Te maris et terrae," rather from a vague notion of the dignity of the measure than from any distinct sense of special appropriateness.
From this enumeration, which I fear has been somewhat tedious, it will be seen that I have been guided throughout not by any systematic principles, but by a multitude of minor considerations, some operating more strongly in one case, and some in another. I trust, however, that in all this diversity I shall be found to have kept in view the object on which I have been insisting, a metrical correspondence with the original. Even where I have been most inconsistent, I have still adhered to the rule of comprising the English within the same number of lines as the Latin. I believe tills to be almost essential to the preservation of the character of the Horatian lyric, which always retains a certain severity, and never loses itself in modern exuberance; and though I am well aware that the result in my case has frequently, perhaps generally, been a most un-Horatian stiffness, I am convinced from my own experience that a really accomplished artist would find the task of composing under these conditions far more hopeful than he had previously imagined it to be. Yet it is a restraint to which scarcely any of the previous translators of the Odes have been willing to submit. Perhaps Professor Newman is the only one who has carried it through the whole of the Four Books; most of my predecessors have ignored it altogether. It is this which, in my judgment, is the chief drawback to the success of the most distinguished of them, Mr. Theodore Martin. He has brought to his work a grace and delicacy of expression and a happy flow of musical verse which are beyond my praise, and which render many of his Odes most pleasing to read as poems. I wish he had combined with these qualities that terseness and condensation which remind us that a Roman, even when writing "songs of love and wine," was a Roman still.
Some may consider it extraordinary that in discussing the different ways of representing Horatian metres I have said nothing of transplanting those metres themselves into English. I think, however, that an apology for my silence may he found in the present state of the controversy about the English hexameter. Whatever may be the ultimate fate of that struggling alien—and I confess myself to be one of those who doubt whether he can ever be naturalized—most judges will, I believe, agree that for the present at any rate his case is sufficient to occupy the literary tribunals, and that to raise any discussion on the rights of others of his class would be premature. Practice, after all, is more powerful in such matters than theory; and hardly at any time in the three hundred years during which we have had a formed literature has the introduction of classical lyric measures into English been a practical question. Stanihurst has had many successors in the hexameter; probably he has not had more than one or two in the Asclepiad. The Sapphic, indeed, has been tried repeatedly; but it is an exception which is no exception, the metre thus intruded into our language not being really the Latin Sapphic, but a metre of a different kind, founded on a mistake in the manner of reading the Latin, into which Englishmen naturally fall, and in which, for convenience' sake, they as naturally persist. The late Mr. Clough, whose efforts in literature were essentially tentative, in form as well as in spirit, and whose loss for that very reason is perhaps of more serious import to English poetry than if, with equal genius, he had possessed a more conservative habit of mind, once attempted reproductions of nearly all the different varieties of Horatian metres. They may he found in a paper which he contributed to the fourth volume of the "Classical Museum;" and a perusal of them will, I think, be likely to convince the reader that the task is one in which even great rhythmical power and mastery of language would be far from certain of succeeding. Even the Alcaic fragment which he has inserted in his "Amours de Voyage"—
"Eager for battle here Stood Vulcan, here matronal Juno, And with the bow to his shoulder faithful He who with pure dew laveth of Castaly His flowing locks, who holdeth of Lycia The oak forest and the wood that bore him, Delos' and Patara's own Apollo,"—
admirably finished as it is, and highly pleasing as a fragment, scarcely persuades us that twenty stanzas of the same workmanship would be read with adequate pleasure, still less that the same satisfaction would be felt through six-and-thirty Odes. After all, however, a sober critic will be disposed rather to pass judgment on the past than to predict the future, knowing, as he must, how easily the "solvitur ambulando" of an artist like Mr. Tennyson may disturb a whole chain of ingenious reasoning on the possibilities of things.
The question of the language into which Horace should be translated is not less important than that of the metre; but it involves far less discussion of points of detail, and may, in fact, be very soon dismissed. I believe that the chief danger which a translator has to avoid is that of subjection to the influences of his own period. Whether or no Mr. Merivale is right in supposing that an analogy exists between the literature of the present day and that of post-Augustan Rome, it will not, I think, be disputed that between our period and the Augustan period the resemblances are very few, perhaps not more than must necessarily exist between two periods of high cultivation. It is the fashion to say that the characteristic of the literature of the last century was shallow clearness, the expression of obvious thoughts in obvious, though highly finished language; it is the fashion to retort upon our own generation that its tendency is to over-thinking and over-expression, a constant search for thoughts which shall not he obvious and words which shall be above the level of received conventionality. Accepting these as descriptions, however imperfect, of two different types of literature, we can have no doubt to which division to refer the literary remains of Augustan Rome. The Odes of Horace, in particular, will, I think, strike a reader who comes back to them after reading other books, as distinguished by a simplicity, monotony, and almost poverty of sentiment, and as depending for the charm of their external form not so much on novel and ingenious images as on musical words aptly chosen and aptly combined. We are always hearing of wine-jars and Thracian convivialities, of parsley wreaths and Syrian nard; the graver topics, which it is the poet's wisdom to forget, are constantly typified by the terrors of quivered Medes and painted Gelonians; there is the perpetual antithesis between youth and age, there is the ever-recurring image of green and withered trees, and it is only the attractiveness of the Latin, half real, half perhaps arising from association and the romance of a language not one's own, that makes us feel this "lyrical commonplace" more supportable than common-place is usually found to be. It is this, indeed, which constitutes the grand difficulty of the translator, who may well despair when he undertakes to reproduce beauties depending on expression by a process in which expression is sure to be sacrificed. But it would, I think, be a mistake to attempt to get rid of this monotony by calling in the aid of that variety of images and forms of language which modern poetry presents. Here, as in the case of metres, it seems to me that to exceed the bounds of what may be called classical parsimony would be to abandon the one chance, faint as it may be, of producing on the reader's mind something like the impression produced by Horace. I do not say that I have always been as abstinent as I think a translator ought to be; here, as in all matters connected with this most difficult work, weakness may claim a licence of which strength would disdain to avail itself; I only say that I have not surrendered myself to the temptation habitually and without a struggle. As a general rule, while not unfrequently compelled to vary the precise image Horace has chosen, I have substituted one which he has used elsewhere; where he has talked of triumphs, meaning no more than victories, I have talked of bays; where he gives the picture of the luxuriant harvests of Sardinia, I have spoken of the wheat on the threshing-floors. On the whole I have tried, so far as my powers would allow me, to give my translation something of the colour of our eighteenth-century poetry, believing the poetry of that time to be the nearest analogue of the poetry of Augustus' court that England has produced, and feeling quite sure that a writer will bear traces enough of the language and manner of his own time to redeem him from the charge of having forgotten what is after all his native tongue. As one instance out of many, I may mention the use of compound epithets as a temptation to which the translator of Horace is sure to be exposed, and which, in my judgment, he ought in general to resist. Their power of condensation naturally recommends them to a writer who has to deal with inconvenient clauses, threatening to swallow up the greater part of a line; but there is no doubt that in the Augustan poets, as compared with the poets of the republic, they are chiefly conspicuous for their absence, and it is equally certain, I think, that a translator of an Augustan poet ought not to suffer them to be a prominent feature of his style. I have, perhaps, indulged in them too often myself to note them as a defect in others; but it seems to me that they contribute, along with the Tennysonian metre, to diminish the pleasure with which we read such a version as that of which I have already spoken by "C. S. C." of "Justum et tenacem." I may add, too, that I have occasionally allowed the desire of brevity to lead me into an omission of the definite article, which, though perhaps in keeping with the style of Milton, is certainly out of keeping with that of the eighteenth century. It is one of a translator's many refuges, and has been conceded so long that it can hardly he denied him with justice, however it may remind the reader of a bald verbal rendering.
A very few words will serve to conclude this somewhat protracted Preface. I have not sought to interpret Horace with the minute accuracy which I should think necessary in writing a commentary; and in general I have been satisfied to consult two of the latest editions, those by Orelli and Ritter. In a few instances I have preferred the views of the latter; but his edition will not supersede that of the former, whose commentary is one of the most judicious ever produced, within a moderate compass, upon a classical author. In the few notes which I have added at the end of this volume, I have noticed chiefly the instances in which I have differed from him, in favour either of Hitter's interpretation, or of some view of my own. At the same time it must be said that my translation is not to be understood as always indicating the interpretation I prefer. Sometimes, where the general effect of two views of the construction of a passage has been the same, I have followed that which I believed to be less correct, for reasons of convenience. I have of course held myself free to deviate in a thousand instances from the exact form of the Latin sentence; and it did not seem reasonable to debar myself from a mode of expression which appeared generally consistent with the original, because it happened to be verbally consistent with a mistaken view of the Latin words. To take an example mentioned in my notes, it may be better in Book III. Ode 3, line 25, to make "adulterae" the genitive case after "hospes" than the dative after "splendet;" but for practical purposes the two come to the same thing, both being included in the full development of the thought; and a translation which represents either is substantially a true translation. I have omitted four Odes altogether, one in each Book, and some stanzas of a fifth; and in some other instances I have been studiously paraphrastic. Nor have I thought it worth while to extend my translation from the Odes to the Epodes. The Epodes were the production of Horace's youth, and probably would not have been much cared for by posterity if they had constituted his only title to fame. A few of them are beautiful, but some are revolting, and the rest, as pictures of a roving and sensual passion, remind us of the least attractive portion of the Odes. In the case of a writer like Horace it is not easy to draw an exact line; but though in the Odes our admiration of much that is graceful and tender and even true may balance our moral repugnance to many parts of the poet's philosophy of life, it does not seem equally desirable to dwell minutely on a class of compositions where the beauties are fewer and the deformities more numerous and more undisguised.
I should add that any coincidences that may be noticed between my version and those of my predecessors are, for the most part, merely coincidences. In some cases I may have knowingly borrowed a rhyme, but only where the rhyme was too common to have created a right of property.
PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.
I am very sensible of the favour which has carried this translation from a first edition into a second. The interval between the two has been too short to admit of my altering my judgment in any large number of instances; but I have been glad to employ the present opportunity in amending, as I hope, an occasional word or expression, and, in one or two cases, recasting a stanza. The notices which my book has received, and the opinions communicated by the kindness of friends, have been gratifying to me, both in themselves, and as showing the interest which is being felt in the subject of Horatian translation. It is not surprising that there should be considerable differences of opinion about the manner in which Horace is to be rendered, and also about the metre appropriate to particular Odes; but I need not say that it is through such discussion that questions like these advance towards settlement. It would indeed be a satisfaction to me to think that the question of translating Horace had been brought a step nearer to its solution by the experiment which I again venture to submit to the public.
PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION.
The changes which I have made in this impression of my translation are somewhat more numerous than those which I was able to introduce into the last, as might be expected from the longer interval between the times of publication; but the work may still be spoken of as substantially unaltered.
THE ODES OF HORACE.
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!
JAM SATIS TERRIS.
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, Uxorious flood. 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, Apollo seer! 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!
SIC TE DIVA.
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.
SOLVITUR ACRIS HIEMS.
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.
QUIS MULTA GRACILIS.
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, Mycenaes'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 to-day in wine your care; To-morrow we recross the wide, wide sea!"
LYDIA, DIC PER OMNES.
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 Lycian press?
VIDES UT ALTA.
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, Above, below!
TU NE QUAESIERIS.
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 to-morrow e'en as little as you may.
QUEMN VIRUM AUT HEROA.
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 Minerva's throne. 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 be, 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 Obedient lies. 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.
CUM TU, LYDIA.
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 to 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 NAVIS, REFERENT.
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!
PASTOR CUM TRAHERET.
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 toils 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 Achaean flames."
O MATRE PULCHRA.
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.
XVII. VELOX AMOENUM.
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 friendly 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 empty-headed scorn, And the Faith that keeps no secrets, with a window in its mind.
MATER SAEVA CUPIDINUM
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, hold 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!
NATIS IN USUM.
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.
TE MARIS ET TERRA.
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, unconquer'd 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, And Mercury.
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 unimpair'd, 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, Dark-hair'd, dark-eyed. O sweetest lyre, to Phoebus dear, Delight of Jove's high festival, Blest balm in trouble, hail and hear Whene'er I call!
ALBI, NE DOLEAS.
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, To-day 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.
O DIVA, GRATUM.
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 Koine, 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!
ET THURE, ET FIDIBUS.
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 to-night. 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.
NUNC EST BIBENDUM.
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 to-day, 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.
MOTUM EX METELLO.
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 to 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.
NE SIT ANCILLAE
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 Home, 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 Venafrum's fields? Long springs, mild winters glad that spot By Jove's good grace, and Aulon, dear To fruitful Bacchus, envies not Falernian cheer. 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 SAEPE MECUM.
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!
ULLA SI JURIS.
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.
NON SEMPER IMBRES.
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 to-day Bring rain to-morrow? 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.
NOLIS LONGA FERAE.
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?
ILLE ET NEFASTO.
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 Recks 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.
JAM PAUCA ARATRO.
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 Unclouded glitter. Achilles' light was quench'd at noon; A long decay Tithonus minish'd; My hours, it may be, yet will run When yours are finish'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.
CUR ME QUERELIS.
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.
BACCHUM IN REMOTIS.
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 dream'd 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 Gastulian 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 o grave.
I bid the unhallow'd crowd avaunt! Keep holy silence; strains unknown Till now, the Muses' hierophant, I sing to youths and maids alone. Kings o'er their flocks the sceptre wield; E'en kings beneath Jove's sceptre bow: Victor in giant battle-field, He moves all nature with his brow. This man his planted walks extends Beyond his peers; an older name One to the people's choice commends; One boasts a more unsullied fame; One plumes him on a larger crowd Of clients. What are great or small? Death takes the mean man with the proud; The fatal urn has room for all. When guilty Pomp the drawn sword sees Hung o'er her, richest feasts in vain Strain their sweet juice her taste to please; No lutes, no singing birds again Will bring her sleep. Sleep knows no pride; It scorns not cots of village hinds, Nor shadow-trembling river-side, Nor Tempe, stirr'd by western winds. Who, having competence, has all, The tumult of the sea defies, Nor fears Arcturus' angry fall, Nor fears the Kid-star's sullen rise, Though hail-storms on the vineyard beat, Though crops deceive, though trees complain. One while of showers, one while of heat, One while of winter's barbarous reign. Fish feel the narrowing of the main From sunken piles, while on the strand Contractors with their busy train Let down huge stones, and lords of land Affect the sea: but fierce Alarm Can clamber to the master's side: Black Cares can up the galley swarm, And close behind the horseman ride. If Phrygian marbles soothe not pain, Nor star-bright purple's costliest wear, Nor vines of true Falernian strain, Nor Achaemenian spices rare, Why with rich gate and pillar'd range Upbuild new mansions, twice as high, Or why my Sabine vale exchange For more laborious luxury?
To suffer hardness with good cheer, In sternest school of warfare bred, Our youth should learn; let steed and spear Make him one day the Parthian's dread; Cold skies, keen perils, brace his life. Methinks I see from rampined town Some battling tyrant's matron wife, Some maiden, look in terror down,— "Ah, my dear lord, untrain'd in war! O tempt not the infuriate mood Of that fell lion! see! from far He plunges through a tide of blood!" What joy, for fatherland to die! Death's darts e'en flying feet o'ertake, Nor spare a recreant chivalry, A back that cowers, or loins that quake. True Virtue never knows defeat: HER robes she keeps unsullied still, Nor takes, nor quits, HER curule seat To please a people's veering will. True Virtue opens heaven to worth: She makes the way she does not find: The vulgar crowd, the humid earth, Her soaring pinion leaves behind. Seal'd lips have blessings sure to come: Who drags Eleusis' rite to day, That man shall never share my home, Or join my voyage: roofs give way And boats are wreck'd: true men and thieves Neglected Justice oft confounds: Though Vengeance halt, she seldom leaves The wretch whose flying steps she hounds.
JUSTUM ET TENACEM.
The man of firm and righteous will, No rabble, clamorous for the wrong, No tyrant's brow, whose frown may kill, Can shake the strength that makes him strong: Not winds, that chafe the sea they sway, Nor Jove's right hand, with lightning red: Should Nature's pillar'd frame give way, That wreck would strike one fearless head. Pollux and roving Hercules Thus won their way to Heaven's proud steep, 'Mid whom Augustus, couch'd at ease, Dyes his red lips with nectar deep. For this, great Bacchus, tigers drew Thy glorious car, untaught to slave In harness: thus Quirinus flew On Mars' wing'd steeds from Acheron's wave, When Juno spoke with Heaven's assent: "O Ilium, Ilium, wretched town! The judge accurst, incontinent, And stranger dame have dragg'd thee down. Pallas and I, since Priam's sire Denied the gods his pledged reward, Had doom'd them all to sword and fire, The people and their perjured lord. No more the adulterous guest can charm The Spartan queen: the house forsworn No more repels by Hector's arm My warriors, baffled and outworn: Hush'd is the war our strife made long: I welcome now, my hatred o'er, A grandson in the child of wrong, Him whom the Trojan priestess bore. Receive him, Mars! the gates of flame May open: let him taste forgiven The nectar, and enrol his name Among the peaceful ranks of Heaven. Let the wide waters sever still Ilium and Rome, the exiled race May reign and prosper where they will: So but in Paris' burial-place The cattle sport, the wild beasts hide Their cubs, the Capitol may stand All bright, and Rome in warlike pride O'er Media stretch a conqueror's hand. Aye, let her scatter far and wide Her terror, where the land-lock'd waves Europe from Afric's shore divide, Where swelling Nile the corn-field laves— Of strength more potent to disdain Hid gold, best buried in the mine, Than gather it with hand profane, That for man's greed would rob a shrine. Whate'er the bound to earth ordain'd, There let her reach the arm of power, Travelling, where raves the fire unrein'd, And where the storm-cloud and the shower. Yet, warlike Roman, know thy doom, Nor, drunken with a conqueror's joy, Or blind with duteous zeal, presume To build again ancestral Troy. Should Troy revive to hateful life, Her star again should set in gore, While I, Jove's sister and his wife, To victory led my host once more. Though Phoebus thrice in brazen mail Should case her towers, they thrice should fall, Storm'd by my Greeks: thrice wives should wail Husband and son, themselves in thrall." —Such thunders from the lyre of love! Back, wayward Muse! refrain, refrain To tell the talk of gods above, And dwarf high themes in puny strain.
Come down, Calliope, from above: Breathe on the pipe a strain of fire; Or if a graver note thou love, With Phoebus' cittern and his lyre. You hear her? or is this the play Of fond illusion? Hark! meseems Through gardens of the good I stray, 'Mid murmuring gales and purling streams. Me, as I lay on Vultur's steep, A truant past Apulia's bound, O'ertired, poor child, with play and sleep, With living green the stock-doves crown'd— A legend, nay, a miracle, By Acherontia's nestlings told, By all in Bantine glade that dwell, Or till the rich Forentan mould. "Bears, vipers, spared him as he lay, The sacred garland deck'd his hair, The myrtle blended with the bay: The child's inspired: the gods were there." Your grace, sweet Muses, shields me still On Sabine heights, or lets me range Where cool Praeneste, Tibur's hill, Or liquid Baiae proffers change. Me to your springs, your dances true, Philippi bore not to the ground, Nor the doom'd tree in falling slew, Nor billowy Palinurus drown'd. Grant me your presence, blithe and fain Mad Bosporus shall my bark explore; My foot shall tread the sandy plain That glows beside Assyria's shore; 'Mid Briton tribes, the stranger's foe, And Spaniards, drunk with horses' blood, And quiver'd Scythians, will I go Unharm'd, and look on Tanais' flood. When Caesar's self in peaceful town The weary veteran's home has made, You bid him lay his helmet down And rest in your Pierian shade. Mild thoughts you plant, and joy to see Mild thoughts take root. The nations know How with descending thunder He The impious Titans hurl'd below, Who rules dull earth and stormy seas, And towns of men, and realms of pain, And gods, and mortal companies, Alone, impartial in his reign. Yet Jove had fear'd the giant rush, Their upraised arms, their port of pride, And the twin brethren bent to push Huge Pelion up Olympus' side. But Typhon, Mimas, what could these, Or what Porphyrion's stalwart scorn, Rhoetus, or he whose spears were trees, Enceladus, from earth uptorn, As on they rush'd in mad career 'Gainst Pallas' shield? Here met the foe Fierce Vulcan, queenly Juno here, And he who ne'er shall quit his bow, Who laves in clear Castalian flood His locks, and loves the leafy growth Of Lycia next his native wood, The Delian and the Pataran both. Strength, mindless, falls by its own weight; Strength, mix'd with mind, is made more strong By the just gods, who surely hate The strength whose thoughts are set on wrong. Let hundred-handed Gyas bear His witness, and Orion known Tempter of Dian, chaste and fair, By Dian's maiden dart o'erthrown. Hurl'd on the monstrous shapes she bred, Earth groans, and mourns her children thrust To Orcus; Aetna's weight of lead Keeps down the fire that breaks its crust; Still sits the bird on Tityos' breast, The warder of unlawful love; Still suffers lewd Pirithous, prest By massive chains no hand may move.