Odes of Horace - Ode 3.29. To Maecenas

O from Tyrrhenian monarchs sprung!
This many a season I forbear
A cask of mellow'd wine, untouch'd by tongue,
With roses for thy breast, and essence for thy hair.
Dispatch — nor Tibur's marshy meads,
Nor always Esula admire,
Whose sloping soil the eye with verdure feeds,
Nor buildings rais'd aloft by him who slew his sire.
Leave squeamish plenty, and the pile,
Whose structures to the skies presume,
And cease to praise in such a pompous style
The smoke, and wealth, and clamour of your prosp'rous Rome.
'Tis joy, at times, to shift the scene,
As men of wealth and pow'r allow,
And without purple carpets neat and clean,
The poor man's cottage-treat has smooth'd an anxious brow.
Now Cepheus drives his flaming car,
Now Procyon's wrath begins to burn;
Now the mad lion shews his rampant star,
As fiery Phoebus makes the drinking-days return.
Now weary to the stream and shade
Go shepherds with their languid sheep,
Or where Sylvanus spreads his thickest glade,
And on the silent bank vague winds are lull'd asleep.
What regulations best may suit
The state, and for the world you care,
What points the Seres, Bactrians would dispute,
And what discordant Tanais rises to prepare.
Wisely do heav'nly pow'rs th'event
Of future times in night suppress,
And smile when mortal men are too intent
Beyond their reach — Take thought, that moment you possess
To husband — As for other cares,
As with the streaming river's course
Now gliding to the Tuscan sea it fares,
Now wave-worn rocks, and trunks up-torn with rapid force,
And flocks and houses in its flood
Involving, not without the roar
Of Echo — mountains and th'adjoining wood,
When deluge boils the streams above the peaceful shore.
He, master of himself, shall dwell,
And in a state of joy subsist,
Who every day his heart can fairly tell —
" Why this is life." — To-morrow with a gloomy mist,
Or brightness Jove may deck the pole,
Yet shall he never take away
The past, or with his utmost pow'r controul
That bliss, the fleeting hours have ravish'd as their prey.
Delighted with her cruel pow'r,
Still trifling insolently blind,
Fortune shifts short-liv'd honours ev'ry hour,
Now good, perhaps, to me, now to another kind.
I praise her while I call her mine;
But if she spreads her wings for flight,
Wrapt in my virtue, I her gifts resign,
And court ingenuous want, whose portion is her mite.
'Tis not my business, though the mast
Should with the southern whirlwinds groan,
With wretched pray'rs to deprecate the blast,
Lest in the greedy main my bales be overthrown.
In such a case, my little boat,
For which who oars alone are made,
Should bear me through th'Egean dread afloat,
Fann'd by the gentle breeze, and safe in Castor's aid.
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