Author:

Bki:Xi Carpe Diem

Leuconoë, don’t ask, we never know, what fate the gods grant us,
whether your fate or mine, don’t waste your time on Babylonian,
futile, calculations. How much better to suffer what happens,
whether Jupiter gives us more winters or this is the last one,
one debilitating the Tyrrhenian Sea on opposing cliffs.
Be wise, and mix the wine, since time is short: limit that far-reaching hope.
The envious moment is flying now, now, while we’re speaking:
Seize the day, place in the hours that come as little faith as you can.

Bki:Iv Spring

Fierce winter slackens its grip: it’s spring and the west wind’s sweet change:
the ropes are hauling dry hulls towards the shore,
The flock no longer enjoys the fold, or the ploughman the fire,
no more are the meadows white with hoary frost.

Now Cytherean Venus leads out her dancers, under the pendant moon,
and the lovely Graces have joined with the Nymphs,
treading the earth on tripping feet, while Vulcan, all on fire, visits
the tremendous Cyclopean forges.

Now its right to garland our gleaming heads, with green myrtle or flowers,
whatever the unfrozen earth now bears:
now it’s right to sacrifice to Faunus, in groves that are filled with shadow,
whether he asks a lamb, or prefers a kid.

Pale death knocks with impartial foot, at the door of the poor man’s cottage,
and at the prince’s gate. O Sestus, my friend,
the span of brief life prevents us from ever depending on distant hope.
Soon the night will crush you, the fabled spirits,

and Pluto’s bodiless halls: where once you’ve passed inside you’ll no longer
be allotted the lordship of wine by dice,
or marvel at Lycidas, so tender, for whom, already, the boys
are burning, and soon the girls will grow hotter.

Bkii:Iv Loving A Servant Girl

Phocian Xanthis, don’t be ashamed of love
for your serving-girl. Once before, Briseis
the Trojan slave with her snow-white skin stirred
angry Achilles:

and captive Tecmessa’s loveliness troubled
her master Ajax, the son of Telamon:
and Agamemnon, in his mid-triumph, burned
for a stolen girl,

while the barbarian armies, defeated
in Greek victory, and the loss of Hector,
handed Troy to the weary Thessalians,
an easier prey.

You don’t know your blond Phyllis hasn’t parents
who are wealthy, and might grace their son-in-law.
Surely she’s royally born, and grieves at her
cruel household gods.

Believe that the girl you love’s not one who comes
from the wicked masses, that one so faithful
so averse to gain, couldn’t be the child of
a shameful mother.

I’m unbiased in praising her arms and face,
and shapely ankles: reject all suspicion
of one whose swiftly vanishing life has known
its fortieth year.

Bkii:X The Golden Mean

You’ll live more virtuously, my Murena,
by not setting out to sea, while you’re in dread
of the storm, or hugging fatal shores
too closely, either.

Whoever takes delight in the golden mean,
safely avoids the squalor of a shabby house,
and, soberly, avoids the regal palace
that incites envy.

The tall pine’s more often shaken by the wind,
and it’s a high tower that falls with a louder
crash, while the mountainous summits are places
where lightning strikes.

The heart that is well prepared for any fate
hopes in adversity, fears prosperity.
Though Jupiter brings us all the unlovely
winters: he also

takes them away again. If there’s trouble now
it won’t always be so: sometimes Apollo
rouses the sleeping Muse with his lyre, when he’s
not flexing his bow.

Appear brave and resolute in difficult
times: and yet be wise and take in all your sails
when they’re swollen by too powerful
a following wind.

Bki:I The Dedication: To Maecenas

Maecenas, descendant of royal ancestors,
O my protector, and my sweet glory,
some are delighted by showers of dust,
Olympic dust, over their chariots, they
are raised to the gods, as Earth’s masters, by posts
clipping the red-hot wheels, by noble palms:
this man, if the fickle crowd of Citizens
compete to lift him to triple honours:
that one, if he’s stored away in his granary
whatever he gleaned from the Libyan threshing.
The peasant who loves to break clods in his native
fields, won’t be tempted, by living like Attalus,
to sail the seas, in fear, in a Cyprian boat.
The merchant afraid of the African winds as
they fight the Icarian waves, loves the peace
and the soil near his town, but quickly rebuilds
his shattered ships, unsuited to poverty.
There’s one who won’t scorn cups of old Massic,
nor to lose the best part of a whole day lying
under the greenwood tree, or softly
close to the head of sacred waters.
Many love camp, and the sound of trumpets
mixed with the horns, and the warfare hated
by mothers. The hunter, sweet wife forgotten,
stays out under frozen skies, if his faithful
hounds catch sight of a deer, or a Marsian
wild boar rampages, through his close meshes.
But the ivy, the glory of learned brows,
joins me to the gods on high: cool groves,
and the gathering of light nymphs and satyrs,
draw me from the throng, if Euterpe the Muse
won’t deny me her flute, and Polyhymnia
won’t refuse to exert herself on her Lesbian lyre.
And if you enter me among all the lyric poets,
my head too will be raised to touch the stars.

Bki:Xxxvii Cleopatra

Now’s the time for drinking deep, and now’s the time
to beat the earth with unfettered feet, the time
to set out the gods’ sacred couches,
my friends, and prepare a Salian feast.

It would have been wrong, before today, to broach
the Caecuban wines from out the ancient bins,
while a maddened queen was still plotting
the Capitol’s and the empire’s ruin,

with her crowd of deeply-corrupted creatures
sick with turpitude, she, violent with hope
of all kinds, and intoxicated
by Fortune’s favour. But it calmed her frenzy

that scarcely a single ship escaped the flames,
and Caesar reduced the distracted thoughts, bred
by Mareotic wine, to true fear,
pursuing her close as she fled from Rome,

out to capture that deadly monster, bind her,
as the sparrow-hawk follows the gentle dove
or the swift hunter chases the hare,
over the snowy plains of Thessaly.

But she, intending to perish more nobly,
showed no sign of womanish fear at the sword,
nor did she even attempt to win
with her speedy ships to some hidden shore.

And she dared to gaze at her fallen kingdom
with a calm face, and touch the poisonous asps
with courage, so that she might drink down
their dark venom, to the depths of her heart,

growing fiercer still, and resolving to die:
scorning to be taken by hostile galleys,
and, no ordinary woman, yet queen
no longer, be led along in proud triumph.

Bki:Ii To Augustus

The Father’s sent enough dread hail
and snow to earth already, striking
sacred hills with fiery hand,
to scare the city,

and scare the people, lest again
we know Pyrrha’s age of pain
when Proteus his sea-herds drove
across high mountains,

and fishes lodged in all the elms,
that used to be the haunt of doves,
and the trembling roe-deer swam
the whelming waters.

We saw the yellow Tiber’s waves
hurled backwards from the Tuscan shore,
toppling Numa’s Regia and
the shrine of Vesta,

far too fierce now, the fond river,
in his revenge of wronged Ilia,
drowning the whole left bank, deep,
without permission.

Our children, fewer for their father’s
vices, will hear metal sharpened
that’s better destined for the Persians,
and of battles too.

Which gods shall the people call on
when the Empire falls in ruins?
With what prayer shall the virgins
tire heedless Vesta?

Whom will Jupiter assign to
expiate our sins? We pray you,
come, cloud veiling your bright shoulders,
far-sighted Apollo:

or laughing Venus Erycina,
if you will, whom Cupid circles,
or you, if you see your children
neglected, Leader,

you sated from the long campaign,
who love the war-shouts and the helmets,
and the Moor’s cruel face among his
blood-stained enemies.

Or you, winged son of kindly Maia,
changing shape on earth to human
form, and ready to be named as
Caesar’s avenger:

Don’t rush back to the sky, stay long
among the people of Quirinus,
no swifter breeze take you away,
unhappy with our

sins: here to delight in triumphs,
in being called our prince and father,
making sure the Medes are punished,
lead us, O Caesar.

Bki:Xvii The Delights Of The Country

Swift Faunus, the god, will quite often exchange
Arcady for my sweet Mount Lucretilis,
and while he stays he protects my goats
from the midday heat and the driving rain.

The wandering wives of the rank he-goats search,
with impunity, through the safe woodland groves,
for the hidden arbutus, and thyme,
and their kids don’t fear green poisonous snakes,

or the wolf of Mars, my lovely Tyndaris,
once my Mount Ustica’s long sloping valleys,
and its smooth worn rocks, have re-echoed
to the music of sweet divine piping.

The gods protect me: my love and devotion,
and my Muse, are dear to the gods. Here the rich
wealth of the countryside’s beauties will
flow for you, now, from the horn of plenty.

Here you’ll escape from the heat of the dog-star,
in secluded valleys, sing of bright Circe,
labouring over the Teian lyre,
and of Penelope: both loved one man.

Here you’ll bring cups of innocent Lesbian
wine, under the shade, nor will Semele’s son,
that Bacchus, battle it out with Mars,
nor shall you fear the intemperate hands

of insolent Cyrus, jealously watching,
to possess you, girl, unequal to evil,
to tear off the garland that clings to
your hair, or tear off your innocent clothes.

Bki:Xii Praising Augustus

What god, man, or hero do you choose to praise
on the high pitched flute or the lyre, Clio?
Whose name will it be that joyfully resounds
in playful echoes,

either on shadowed slopes of Mount Helicon,
or on Pindus’s crest, or on cool Haemus,
where the trees followed thoughtlessly after
Orpheus’s call,

that held back the swift-running streams and the rush
of the breeze, by his mother the Muse’s art,
and seductively drew the listening oaks
with enchaining song?

Which shall I sing first of the praises reserved
for the Father, who commands mortals and gods,
who controls the seas, and the land, and the world’s
various seasons?

From whom nothing’s born that’s greater than he is,
and there’s nothing that’s like him or near him,
though Athene has honour approaching his,
she’s bravest in war:

I won’t be silent about you, O Bacchus,
or you Diana, virgin inimical
to wild creatures, or you Apollo, so feared
for your sure arrows.

I’ll sing Hercules, too, and Leda’s twin boys,
one famed for winning with horses, the other
in boxing. When their clear stars are shining bright
for those on the sea,

the storm-tossed water streams down from the headland,
the high winds die down, and the clouds disappear,
and, because they wish it, the menacing waves
repose in the deep.

I don’t know whether to speak next, after those,
of Romulus, or of Numa’s peaceful reign,
of Tarquin’s proud axes, or of that younger
Cato’s noble death.

Gratefully, I speak in distinguished verses
of Regulus: and the Scauri: and Paulus
careless of his life, when Hannibal conquered:
of Fabricius.

Of him, and of Curius with uncut hair,
and Camillus too, whom their harsh poverty
and their ancestral gods, and their ancient farms,
inured to struggle.

Marcellus’ glory grows like a tree, quietly
with time: the Julian constellation shines,
among the other stars, as the Moon among
the lesser fires.

Father, and guardian of the human race,
son of Saturn, the care of mighty Caesar
was given you by fate: may you reign forever
with Caesar below.

Whether its the conquered Persians, menacing
Latium, that he leads, in well-earned triumph,
or the Seres and the Indians who lie
beneath Eastern skies,

under you, he’ll rule the wide earth with justice:
you’ll shake Olympus with your heavy chariot,
you’ll send your hostile lightning down to shatter
once-pure sacred groves.

Bki:Xxi Hymn To Diana

O tender virgins sing, in praise of Diana,
and, you boys, sing in praise, of long-haired Apollo,
and of Latona, deeply
loved by all-conquering Jove.

You girls, she who enjoys the streams and the green leaves
of the groves that clothe the cool slopes of Algidus,
or dark Erymanthian
trees, or the woods of green Cragus.

You boys, sounding as many praises, of Tempe
and Apollo’s native isle Delos, his shoulder
distinguished by his quiver,
and his brother Mercury’s lyre.

He’ll drive away sad war, and miserable famine,
the plague too, from our people and Caesar our prince,
and, moved by all your prayers,
send them to Persians and Britons.

Bkiii:Xxx Aere Perennius

I’ve raised a monument, more durable than bronze,
one higher than the Pyramids’ royal towers,
that no devouring rain, or fierce northerly gale,
has power to destroy: nor the immeasurable
succession of years, and the swift passage of time.
I’ll not utterly die, but a rich part of me,
will escape Persephone: and fresh with the praise
of posterity, I’ll rise, beyond. While the High
Priest, and the silent Virgin, climb the Capitol,
I’ll be famous, I, born of humble origin,
(from where wild Aufidus roars, and where Daunus once,
lacking in streams, ruled over a rural people)
as the first to re-create Aeolian song
in Italian verse. Melpomene, take pride,
in what has been earned by your merit, and, Muse,
willingly, crown my hair, with the Delphic laurel.