—Sir Theodore Martin
[Footnote 2: Virgil must
bring some rare perfume in exchange
for the rich wine, since Horace thus playfully conditions his
THE GOLDEN MEAN
Horace. Book II, Ode 10
Receive, dear friends, the truths I teach,
So shalt thou live beyond the reach
Of adverse Fortune’s power;
Not always tempt the distant deep,
Nor always timorously creep
Along the treacherous shore.
He that holds fast the golden mean
And lives contentedly between
The little and the great,
Feels not the wants that pinch the poor,
Nor plagues that haunt the rich man’s door,
Imbittering all his state.
The tallest pines feel most the power
Of wintry blasts; the loftiest tower
Comes heaviest to the ground;
The bolts that spare the mountain’s side
His cloud-capt eminence divide,
And spread the ruin round.
The well-informed philosopher
Rejoices with a wholesome fear,
And hopes in spite of pain;
If winter bellow from the north,
Soon the sweet spring comes dancing forth,
And nature laughs again.
What if thine heaven be overcast?
The dark appearance will not last;
Expect a brighter sky.
The god that strings a silver bow
Awakes sometimes the Muses too,
And lays his arrows by.
If hindrances obstruct thy way,
Thy magnanimity display,
And let thy strength be seen:
But O! if Fortune fill thy sail
With more than a propitious gale,
Take half thy canvas in.
TO THE READER
He unto whom thou art so partial,
O reader, is the well-known Martial,
The Epigrammatist: while living,
Give him the fame thou wouldst be giving
So shall he hear, and feel, and know it:
Post-obits rarely reach a poet.
Martial. Book I, xlii
When the sad tale, how Brutus fell, was brought,
And slaves refused the weapon Portia sought;
“Know ye not yet,” she said, with towering pride,
“Death is a boon that cannot be denied?
I thought my father amply had imprest
This simple truth upon each Roman breast.”
Dauntless she gulph’d the embers as they flamed
And, while their heat within her raged, exclaim’d
“Now, troublous guardians of a life abhorr’d,
Still urge your caution, and refuse the sword.”
Martial. Book X, lxx