When of the graceful ilex on the hollow rocks I sing,
Thou shalt become illustrious, O sweet Bandusian spring!
Among the noble fountains which have been enshrined in fame,
Thy dancing, babbling waters shall in song our homage claim.
Boy, I detest the Persian pomp;
I hate those linden-bark devices;
And as for roses, holy Moses!
They can’t be got at living prices!
Myrtle is good enough for us,—
For you, as bearer of my flagon;
For me, supine beneath this vine,
Doing my best to get a jag on!
Maecenas, you will be my death,—though
friendly you profess yourself,—
If to me in a strain like this so often you address yourself:
“Come, Holly, why this laziness? Why indolently shock you us?
Why with Lethean cups fall into desuetude innocuous?”
A god, Maecenas! yea, a god hath proved the very curse
If my iambics are not done, pray, do not think the worse of me;
Anacreon for young Bathyllus burned without apology,
And wept his simple measures on a sample of conchology.
Now, you yourself, Maecenas, are enjoying this beatitude;
If by no brighter beauty Ilium fell, you’ve cause for gratitude.
A certain Phryne keeps me on the rack with lovers numerous;
This is the artful hussy’s neat conception of the humorous!
You ask me, friend,
Why I don’t send
The long since due-and-paid-for numbers;
Why, songless, I
As drunken lie
Abandoned to Lethean slumbers.
Long time ago
(As well you know)
I started in upon that carmen;
My work was vain,—
But why complain?
When gods forbid, how helpless are men!
Some ages back,
The sage Anack
Courted a frisky Samian body,
Singing her praise
In metered phrase
As flowing as his bowls of toddy.
Till I was hoarse
Might I discourse
Upon the cruelties of Venus;
’T were waste of time
As well of rhyme,
For you’ve been there yourself, Maecenas!
Perfect your bliss
If some fair miss
Love you yourself and not your minae;
I, fortune’s sport,
All vainly court
The beauteous, polyandrous Phryne!
TO THE SHIP OF STATE
O ship of state
Shall new winds bear you back upon the sea?
What are you doing? Seek the harbor’s lee
Ere ’t is too late!
Do you bemoan
Your side was stripped of oarage in the blast?
Swift Africus has weakened, too, your mast;
The sailyards groan.