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- Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace - 4/26 -


THE ODES OF HORACE.

BOOK I.

I.

MAECENAS ATAVIS.

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!

II.

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!

III.

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.

IV.

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.

V.

QUIS MULTA GRACILIS.

What slender youth, besprinkled with perfume,


Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace - 4/26

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