On me the Muse has laid her charge to tell
Of your Licymnia’s voice, the lustrous hue
Of her bright eye, her heart that beats so well
To mutual passion true:
How nought she does but lends her added grace,
Whether she dance, or join in bantering play,
Or with soft arms the maiden choir embrace
On great Diana’s day.
Say, would you change for all the wealth possest
By rich Achaemenes or Phrygia’s heir,
Or the full stores of Araby the blest,
One lock of her dear hair,
While to your burning lips she bends her neck,
Or with kind cruelty denies the due
She means you not to beg for, but to take,
Or snatches it from you?
Ille et NEFASTO.
Black day he chose for planting
Accurst he rear’d thee from the ground,
The bane of children yet to be,
The scandal of the village round.
His father’s throat the monster press’d
Beside, and on his hearthstone spilt,
I ween, the blood of midnight guest;
Black Colchian drugs, whate’er of guilt
Is hatch’d on earth, he dealt in all—
Who planted in my rural stead
Thee, fatal wood, thee, sure to fall
Upon thy blameless master’s head.
The dangers of the hour! no thought
We give them; Punic seaman’s fear
Is all of Bosporus, nor aught
Recks he of pitfalls otherwhere;
The soldier fears the mask’d retreat
Of Parthia; Parthia dreads the thrall
Of Rome; but Death with noiseless feet
Has stolen and will steal on all.
How near dark Pluto’s court I stood,
And AEacus’ judicial throne,
The blest seclusion of the good,
And Sappho, with sweet lyric moan
Bewailing her ungentle sex,
And thee, Alcaeus, louder far
Chanting thy tale of woful wrecks,
Of woful exile, woful war!
In sacred awe the silent dead
Attend on each: but when the song
Of combat tells and tyrants fled,
Keen ears, press’d shoulders, closer throng.
What marvel, when at those sweet airs
The hundred-headed beast spell-bound
Each black ear droops, and Furies’ hairs
Uncoil their serpents at the sound?
Prometheus too and Pelops’ sire
In listening lose the sense of woe;
Orion hearkens to the lyre,
And lets the lynx and lion go.
Ah, Postumus! they fleet
Our years, nor piety one hour
Can win from wrinkles and decay,
And Death’s indomitable power;
Not though three hundred bullocks flame
Each year, to soothe the tearless king
Who holds huge Geryon’s triple frame
And Tityos in his watery ring,
That circling flood, which all must stem,
Who eat the fruits that Nature yields,
Wearers of haughtiest diadem,