Now Pacorus and Montaeses twice
Have given our unblest arms the foil;
Their necklaces, of mean device,
Smiling they deck with Roman spoil.
Our city, torn by faction’s throes,
Dacian and Ethiop well-nigh razed,
These with their dreadful navy, those
For archer-prowess rather praised.
An evil age erewhile debased
The marriage-bed, the race, the home;
Thence rose the flood whose waters waste
The nation and the name of Rome.
Not such their birth, who stain’d for us
The sea with Punic carnage red,
Smote Pyrrhus, smote Antiochus,
And Hannibal, the Roman’s dread.
Theirs was a hardy soldier-brood,
Inured all day the land to till
With Sabine spade, then shoulder wood
Hewn at a stern old mother’s will,
When sunset lengthen’d from each height
The shadows, and unyoked the steer,
Restoring in its westward flight
The hour to toilworn travail dear.
What has not cankering Time made worse?
Viler than grandsires, sires beget
Ourselves, yet baser, soon to curse
The world with offspring baser yet.
Quid FLES, ASTERIE.
Why weep for him whom sweet Favonian
Will waft next spring, Asteria, back to you,
Rich with Bithynia’s wares,
A lover fond and true,
Your Gyges? He, detain’d by stormy stress
At Oricum, about the Goat-star’s rise,
Cold, wakeful, comfortless,
The long night weeping lies.
Meantime his lovesick hostess’ messenger
Talks of the flames that waste poor Chloe’s heart
(Flames lit for you, not her!)
With a besieger’s art;
Shows how a treacherous woman’s lying breath
Once on a time on trustful Proetus won
To doom to early death
Too chaste Bellerophon;
Warns him of Peleus’ peril, all but slain
For virtuous scorn of fair Hippolyta,
And tells again each tale
That e’er led heart astray.
In vain; for deafer than Icarian seas
He hears, untainted yet. But, lady fair,
What if Enipeus please
Your listless eye? beware!
Though true it be that none with surer seat
O’er Mars’s grassy turf is seen to ride,
Nor any swims so fleet
Adown the Tuscan tide,
Yet keep each evening door and window barr’d;
Look not abroad when music strikes up shrill,
And though he call you hard,
Remain obdurate still.