Nor ravening fire, nor Jupiter
In hideous ruin crashing down.
Prometheus, forced, they say, to add
To his prime clay some favourite part
From every kind, took lion mad,
And lodged its gall in man’s poor heart.
’Twas wrath that laid Thyestes low;
’Tis wrath that oft destruction calls
On cities, and invites the foe
To drive his plough o’er ruin’d walls.
Then calm your spirit; I can tell
How once, when youth in all my veins
Was glowing, blind with rage, I fell
On friend and foe in ribald strains.
Come, let me change my sour for sweet,
And smile complacent as before:
Hear me my palinode repeat,
And give me back your heart once more.
XVII. VELOX AMOENUM.
The pleasures of Lucretilis
Tempt Faunus from his Grecian seat;
He keeps my little goats in bliss
Apart from wind, and rain, and heat.
In safety rambling o’er the sward
For arbutes and for thyme they peer,
The ladies of the unfragrant lord,
Nor vipers, green with venom, fear,
Nor savage wolves, of Mars’ own breed,
My Tyndaris, while Ustica’s dell
Is vocal with the silvan reed,
And music thrills the limestone fell.
Heaven is my guardian; Heaven approves
A blameless life, by song made sweet;
Come hither, and the fields and groves
Their horn shall empty at your feet.
Here, shelter’d by a friendly tree,
In Teian measures you shall sing
Bright Circe and Penelope,
Love-smitten both by one sharp sting.
Here shall you quaff beneath the shade
Sweet Lesbian draughts that injure none,
Nor fear lest Mars the realm invade
Of Semele’s Thyonian son,
Lest Cyrus on a foe too weak
Lay the rude hand of wild excess,
His passion on your chaplet wreak,
Or spoil your undeserving dress.
Varus, are your trees in planting?
put in none before the vine,
In the rich domain of Tibur, by the walls of Catilus;
There’s a power above that hampers all that sober brains design,
And the troubles man is heir to thus are quell’d, and only thus.
Who can talk of want or warfare when the wine is in his head,
Not of thee, good father Bacchus, and of Venus fair and bright?
But should any dream of licence, there’s a lesson may be read,
How ’twas wine that drove the Centaurs with the Lapithae to fight.
And the Thracians too may warn us; truth and falsehood, good and
How they mix them, when the wine-god’s hand is heavy on them laid!
Never, never, gracious Bacchus, may I move thee ’gainst thy will,