Bind myrtle now about your brow,
And weave fair flowers in maiden tresses;
Appease god Pan, who, kind to man,
Our fleeting life with affluence blesses;
But let the changing seasons mind us,
That Death’s the certain doom of mortals,—
Grim Death, who waits at humble gates,
And likewise stalks through kingly portals.
Soon, Sestius, shall Plutonian shades
Enfold you with their hideous seemings;
Then love and mirth and joys of earth
Shall fade away like fevered dreamings.
The western breeze is springing up, the ships are
in the bay,
And spring has brought a happy change as winter melts away.
No more in stall or fire the herd or plowman finds delight;
No longer with the biting frosts the open fields are white.
Our Lady of Cythera now prepares to lead the dance,
While from above the kindly moon gives an approving glance;
The Nymphs and comely Graces join with Venus and the choir,
And Vulcan’s glowing fancy lightly turns to thoughts of fire.
Now it is time with myrtle green to crown the shining
And with the early blossoms of the spring to decorate;
To sacrifice to Faunus, on whose favor we rely,
A sprightly lamb, mayhap a kid, as he may specify.
Impartially the feet of Death at huts and castles
The influenza carries off the rich and poor alike.
O Sestius, though blessed you are beyond the common run,
Life is too short to cherish e’en a distant hope begun.
The Shades and Pluto’s mansion follow hard upon
Once there you cannot throw the dice, nor taste the wine you sip;
Nor look on blooming Lycidas, whose beauty you commend,
To whom the girls will presently their courtesies extend.
You, blatant coward that you are,
Upon the helpless vent your spite.
Suppose you ply your trade on me;
Come, monkey with this bard, and see
How I’ll repay your bark with bite!
Ay, snarl just once at me, you brute!
And I shall hound you far and wide,
As fiercely as through drifted snow
The shepherd dog pursues what foe
Skulks on the Spartan mountain-side.
The chip is on my shoulder—see?
But touch it and I’ll raise your fur;
I’m full of business, so beware!
For, though I’m loaded up for bear,
I’m quite as like to kill a cur!
O mother Venus, quit, I pray,
Your violent assailing!
The arts, forsooth, that fired my youth
At last are unavailing;
My blood runs cold, I’m getting old,
And all my powers are failing.
Speed thou upon thy white swans’ wings,
And elsewhere deign to mellow
With thy soft arts the anguished hearts
Of swains that writhe and bellow;
And right away seek out, I pray,
Young Paullus,—he’s your fellow!