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- Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace - 5/26 -

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, 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?



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!



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.



What man, what hero, Clio sweet,

Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace - 5/26

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