With animal impatience from your back,
And so be thought in nature as in name
Tour father’s colt, and made some joker’s game.
Tour powers of tough endurance will avail
With brooks and ponds to ford and hills to scale:
But when you’ve quelled the perils of the road,
Take special care how you adjust your load:
Don’t tuck beneath your arm these precious gifts,
As drunken Pyrrhia does the wool she lifts,
As rustics do a lamb, as humble wights
Their cap and slippers when asked out at nights.
Don’t tell the world you’ve toiled and sweated hard
In carrying lays which Caesar may regard:
Push on, nor stop for questions. Now good bye;
But pray don’t trip, and smash the poetry.
Good bailiff of my farm, that snug domain
Which makes its master feel himself again,
Which, though you sniff at it, could once support
Five hearths, and send five statesmen to the court,
Let’s have a match in husbandry; we’ll try
Which can do weeding better, you or I,
And see if Horace more repays the hand
That clears him of his thistles, or his land.
Though here I’m kept administering relief
To my poor Lamia’s broken-hearted grief
For his lost brother, ne’ertheless my thought
Flies to my woods, and counts the distance nought.
You praise the townsman’s, I the rustic’s state:
Admiring others’ lots, our own we hate:
Each blames the place he lives in: but the mind
Is most in fault, which ne’er leaves self behind.
A town-house drudge, for farms you used to sigh;
Now towns and shows and baths are all your cry:
But I’m consistent with myself: you know
I grumble, when to Rome I’m forced to go.
Truth is, our standards differ: what your taste
Condemns, forsooth, as so much savage waste,
The man who thinks with Horace thinks divine,
And hates the things which you believe so fine.
I know your secret: ’tis the cook-shop breeds
That lively sense of what the country needs:
You grieve because this little nook of mine
Would bear Arabian spice as soon as wine;
Because no tavern happens to be nigh
Where you can go and tipple on the sly,
No saucy flute-girl, at whose jigging sound
You bring your feet down lumbering to the ground.
And yet, methinks, you’ve plenty on your hands
In breaking up these long unharrowed lands;
The ox, unyoked and resting from the plough,
Wants fodder, stripped from elm or poplar bough;
You’ve work too at the river, when there’s rain,
As, but for a strong bank,’twould flood the plain.
Now have a little patience, you shall see
What makes the gulf between yourself and me:
I, who once wore gay clothes and well-dressed hair,
I, who, though poor, could please a greedy fair,