TO POMPEIUS VARUS
Pompey, what fortune gives you back
To the friends and the gods who love you?
Once more you stand in your native land,
With your native sky above you.
Ah, side by side, in years agone,
We’ve faced tempestuous weather,
And often quaffed
The genial draught
From the same canteen together.
When honor at Philippi fell
A prey to brutal passion,
I regret to say that my feet ran away
In swift Iambic fashion.
You were no poet; soldier born,
You stayed, nor did you wince then.
To my help, which same
Has frequently saved me since then.
But now you’re back, let’s celebrate
In the good old way and classic;
Come, let us lard our skins with nard,
And bedew our souls with Massic!
With fillets of green parsley leaves
Our foreheads shall be done up;
And with song shall we
Protract our spree
Until the morrow’s sun-up.
THE POET’S METAMORPHOSIS
Maecenas, I propose to fly
To realms beyond these human portals;
No common things shall be my wings,
But such as sprout upon immortals.
Of lowly birth, once shed of earth,
Your Horace, precious (so you’ve told him),
Shall soar away; no tomb of clay
Nor Stygian prison-house shall hold him.
Upon my skin feathers begin
To warn the songster of his fleeting;
But never mind, I leave behind
Songs all the world shall keep repeating.
Lo! Boston girls, with corkscrew curls,
And husky westerns, wild and woolly,
And southern climes shall vaunt my rhymes,
And all profess to know me fully.
Methinks the West shall know me best,
And therefore hold my memory dearer;
For by that lake a bard shall make
My subtle, hidden meanings clearer.
So cherished, I shall never die;
Pray, therefore, spare your dolesome praises,
Your elegies, and plaintive cries,
For I shall fertilize no daisies!
Venus, dear Cnidian-Paphian queen!
Desert that Cyprus way off yonder,
And fare you hence, where with incense
My Glycera would have you fonder;
And to your joy bring hence your boy,
The Graces with unbelted laughter,
The Nymphs, and Youth,—then, then, in sooth,
Should Mercury come tagging after.
IN THE SPRINGTIME
’T is spring! The boats bound to the sea;
The breezes, loitering kindly over
The fields, again bring herds and men
The grateful cheer of honeyed clover.
Now Venus hither leads her train;
The Nymphs and Graces join in orgies;
The moon is bright, and by her light
Old Vulcan kindles up his forges.