No Persian cumber, boy, for me;
I hate your garlands linden-plaited;
Leave winter’s rose where on the tree
It hangs belated.
Wreath me plain myrtle; never think
Plain myrtle either’s wear unfitting,
Yours as you wait, mine as I drink
In vine-bower sitting.
MOTUM ex METELLO.
The broils that from
The secret springs, the dark intrigues,
The freaks of Fortune, and the great
Confederate in disastrous leagues,
And arms with uncleansed slaughter red,
A work of danger and distrust,
You treat, as one on fire should tread,
Scarce hid by treacherous ashen crust.
Let Tragedy’s stern muse be mute
Awhile; and when your order’d page
Has told Rome’s tale, that buskin’d foot
Again shall mount the Attic stage,
Pollio, the pale defendant’s shield,
In deep debate the senate’s stay,
The hero of Dalmatic field
By Triumph crown’d with deathless bay.
E’en now with trumpet’s threatening blare
You thrill our ears; the clarion brays;
The lightnings of the armour scare
The steed, and daunt the rider’s gaze.
Methinks I hear of leaders proud
With no uncomely dust distain’d,
And all the world by conquest bow’d,
And only Cato’s soul unchain’d.
Yes, Juno and the powers on high
That left their Afric to its doom,
Have led the victors’ progeny
As victims to Jugurtha’s tomb.
What field, by Latian blood-drops fed,
Proclaims not the unnatural deeds
It buries, and the earthquake dread
Whose distant thunder shook the Medes?
What gulf, what river has not seen
Those sights of sorrow? nay, what sea
Has Daunian carnage yet left green?
What coast from Roman blood is free?
But pause, gay Muse, nor leave your play
Another Cean dirge to sing;
With me to Venus’ bower away,
And there attune a lighter string.
The silver, Sallust, shows not
While buried in the greedy mine:
You love it not till moderate wear
Have given it shine.
Honour to Proculeius! he
To brethren play’d a father’s part;
Fame shall embalm through years to be
That noble heart.
Who curbs a greedy soul may boast
More power than if his broad-based throne
Bridged Libya’s sea, and either coast
Were all his own.
Indulgence bids the dropsy grow;
Who fain would quench the palate’s flame
Must rescue from the watery foe
The pale weak frame.
Phraates, throned where Cyrus sate,
May count for blest with vulgar herds,
But not with Virtue; soon or late
From lying words
She weans men’s lips; for him she keeps
The crown, the purple, and the bays,
Who dares to look on treasure-heaps
With unblench’d gaze.