The Satires, Epistles, and Art of Poetry eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 176 pages of information about The Satires, Epistles, and Art of Poetry.
Plain beacons these for heedless youth, whose taste
Might lead them else a fair estate to waste:” 
If lawless love were what he bade me shun,
“Avoid Scetanius’ slough,” his words would run: 
“Wise men,” he’d add, “the reasons will explain
Why you should follow this, from that refrain: 
For me, if I can train you in the ways
Trod by the worthy folks of earlier days,
And, while you need direction, keep your name
And life unspotted, I’ve attained my aim: 
When riper years have seasoned brain and limb,
You’ll drop your corks, and like a Triton swim.” 
’Twas thus he formed my boyhood:  if he sought
To make me do some action that I ought,
“You see your warrant there,” he’d say, and clench
His word with some grave member of the bench: 
So too with things forbidden:  “can you doubt
The deed’s a deed an honest man should scout,
When, just for this same matter, these and those,
Like open drains, are stinking ’neath your nose?”
Sick gluttons of a next-door funeral hear,
And learn self-mastery in the school of fear: 
And so a neighbour’s scandal many a time
Has kept young minds from running into crime.

Thus I grew up, unstained by serious ill,
Though venial faults, I grant you, haunt me still: 
Yet items I could name retrenched e’en there
By time, plain speaking, individual care;
For, when I chance to stroll or lounge alone,
I’m not without a Mentor of my own: 
“This course were better:  that might help to mend
My daily life, improve me as a friend: 
There some one showed ill-breeding:  can I say
I might not fall into the like one day?”
So with closed lips I ruminate, and then
In leisure moments play with ink and pen: 
For that’s an instance, I must needs avow,
Of those small faults I hinted at just now: 
Grant it your prompt indulgence, or a throng
Of poets shall come up, some hundred strong,
And by mere numbers, in your own despite,
Force you, like Jews, to be our proselyte.



Leaving great Rome, my journey I begin,
And reach Aricia, where a moderate inn
(With me was Heliodorus, who knows more
Of rhetoric than e’er did Greek before): 
Next Appii Forum, filled, e’en, nigh to choke,
With knavish publicans and boatmen folk. 
This portion of our route, which most get through
At one good stretch, we chose to split in two,
Taking it leisurely:  for those who go
The Appian road are jolted less when slow. 
I find the water villanous, decline
My stomach’s overtures, refuse to dine,
And sit and sit with temper less than sweet
Watching my fellow-travellers while they eat. 
Now Night prepared o’er all the earth to spread
Her veil, and light the stars up overhead: 
Boatmen and slaves a slanging-match begin: 
“Ho! put in here!  What! take three hundred

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The Satires, Epistles, and Art of Poetry from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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