("His Friends" To Quintus Horatius Flaccus.)
"Hæc decies repetita [non] placebit."--Ars Poetica.
Flaccus, you write us charming songs:
No bard we know possesses
In such perfection what belongs
To brief and bright addresses;
No man can say that Life is short
With mien so little fretful;
No man to Virtue's paths exhort
In phrases less regretful;
Or touch, with more serene distress,
On Fortune's ways erratic;
And then delightfully digress
From Alp to Adriatic:
All this is well, no doubt, and tends
Barbarian minds to soften;
But, HORACE--we, we are your friends--
Why tell us this so often?
Why feign to spread a cheerful feast,
And then thrust in our faces
These barren scraps (to say the least)
Of Stoic common-places?
Recount, and welcome, your pursuits:
Sing Lydë's lyre and hair;
Sing drums and Berecynthian flutes;
Sing parsley-wreaths; but spare,--
O, spare to sing, what none deny,
That things we love decay;--
That Time and Gold have wings to fly;--
That all must Fate obey!
Or bid us dine--on this day week--
And pour us, if you can,
As soft and sleek as girlish cheek,
Your inmost Cæcuban;--
Of that we fear not overplus;
But your didactic 'tap'--
Forgive us!--grows monotonous;
Nunc vale! Verbum sap.