Behind you must you leave your home and land and wife
And of the trees, except the hated cypresses, you rear,
And which around the funeral piles as signs of mourning grow,
Not one will follow you, their short-lived master, there below.
Your worthier heir the precious Caecuban shall drink
Now with a hundred keys preserved and guarded in your store,
And stain the pavements, pouring out in waste the nectar proud,
Better than that with which the pontiffs’ feasts have been endowed.
What perfumed, posie-dizened sirrah,
With smiles for diet,
Clasps you, O fair but faithless Pyrrha,
On the quiet?
For whom do you bind up your tresses,
As spun-gold yellow,—
Meshes that go with your caresses,
To snare a fellow?
How will he rail at fate capricious,
And curse you duly,
Yet now he deems your wiles delicious,—
You perfect, truly!
Pyrrha, your love’s a treacherous ocean;
He’ll soon fall in there!
Then shall I gloat on his commotion,
For I have been there!
What dainty boy with sweet perfumes bedewed
Has lavished kisses, Pyrrha, in the cave?
For whom amid the roses, many-hued,
Do you bind back your tresses’ yellow wave?
How oft will he deplore your fickle whim,
And wonder at the storm and roughening deeps,
Who now enjoys you, all in all to him,
And dreams of you, whose only thoughts he keeps.
Wretched are they to whom you seem so fair;—
That I escaped the storms, the gods be praised!
My dripping garments, offered with a prayer,
Stand as a tablet to the sea-god raised.
Lofty and enduring is the monument I’ve reared:
Come, tempests, with your bitterness assailing;
And thou, corrosive blasts of time, by all things mortal feared,
Thy buffets and thy rage are unavailing!
I shall not altogether die: by far my greater
Shall mock man’s common fate in realms infernal;
My works shall live as tributes to my genius and my art,—
My works shall be my monument eternal!
While this great Roman empire stands and gods protect
Mankind with grateful hearts shall tell the story
How one most lowly born upon the parched Apulian plains
First raised the native lyric muse to glory.
Assume, revered Melpomene, the proud estate I’ve
And, with thine own dear hand the meed supplying,
Bind thou about the forehead of thy celebrated son
The Delphic laurel-wreath of fame undying!