Hoc ERAT in VOTIS.
This used to be my wish: a bit of land,
A house and garden with a spring at hand,
And just a little wood. The gods have crowned
My humble vows; I prosper and abound:
Nor ask I more, kind Mercury, save that thou
Wouldst give me still the goods thou giv’st me now:
If crime has ne’er increased them, nor excess
And want of thrift are like to make them less;
If I ne’er pray like this, “O might that nook
Which spoils my field be mine by hook or crook!
O for a stroke of luck like his, who found
A crock of silver, turning up the ground,
And, thanks to good Alcides, farmed as buyer
The very land where he had slaved for hire!”
If what I have contents me, hear my prayer:
Still let me feel thy tutelary care,
And let my sheep, my pastures, this and that,
My all, in fact, (except my brains,) be fat.
Now, lodged in my hill-castle, can I choose
Companion fitter than my homely Muse?
Here no town duties vex, no plague-winds blow,
Nor Autumn, friend to graveyards, works me woe.
Sire of the morning (do I call thee right,
Or hear’st thou Janus’ name with more delight?)
Who introducest, so the gods ordain,
Life’s various tasks, inaugurate my strain.
At Rome to bail I’m summoned. “Do your part,”
Thou bidd’st me; “quick, lest others get the start.”
So, whether Boreas roars, or winter’s snow
Clips short the day, to court I needs must go.
I give the fatal pledge, distinct and loud,
Then pushing, struggling, battle with the crowd.
“Now, madman!” clamours some one, not without
A threat or two, “just mind what you’re about:
What? you must knock down all that’s in your way,
Because you’re posting to Maecenas, eh?”
This pleases me, I own; but when I get
To black Esquiliae, trouble waits me yet:
For other people’s matters in a swarm
Buzz round my head and take my ears by storm.
“Sir, Roscius would be glad if you’d arrange
By eight a. m. to be with him on ’Change.”
“Quintus, the scribes entreat you to attend
A meeting of importance, as their friend.”
“Just get Maecenas’ seal attached to these.”
“I’ll try.” “O, you can do it, if you please.”
Seven years, or rather eight, have well-nigh passed
Since with Maecenas’ friends I first was classed,
To this extent, that, driving through the street,
He’d stop his car and offer me a seat,
Or make such chance remarks as “What’s o’clock?”
“Will Syria’s champion beat the Thracian cock?”
“These morning frosts are apt to be severe;”
Just chit-chat, suited to a leaky ear.
Since that auspicious date, each day and hour
Has placed me more and more in envy’s power:
“He joined his play, sat next him at the games:
A child of Fortune!” all the world exclaims.
From the high rostra a report comes down,