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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

An Invitation to Mæcenas

By Horace (65–8 B.C.)

Paraphrase from ‘Echoes from the Sabine Farm,’ by Eugene and Roswell Martin Field

DEAR noble friend! A virgin cask

Of wine solicits your attention;

And roses fair to deck your hair,

And things too numerous to mention.

So tear yourself awhile away

From urban turmoil, pride, and splendor,

And deign to share what humble fare

And sumptuous fellowship I tender.

The sweet content retirement brings

Smooths out the ruffled front of kings.

The evil planets have combined

To make the weather hot, and hotter;

By parboiled streams the shepherd dreams

Vainly of ice-cream soda-water.

And meanwhile you, defying heat,

With patriotic ardor ponder

On what old Rome essays at home,

And what her heathen do out yonder.

Mæcenas, no such vain alarm

Disturbs the quiet of this farm!

God in his providence obscures

The goal beyond this vale of sorrow,

And smiles at men in pity when

They strive to penetrate the morrow.

With faith that all is for the best,

Let’s bear what burdens are presented;

Then we shall say, let come what may,

“We die, as we have lived, contented!

Ours is to-day; God’s is the rest—

He doth ordain who knoweth best.”

Dame Fortune plays me many a prank:

When she is kind, oh, how I go it!

But if again she’s harsh, why, then

I am a very proper poet.

When favoring gales bring in my ships,

I hie to Rome and live in clover;

Elsewise I steer my skiff out here

And anchor till the storm blows over.

Compulsory virtue is the charm

Of life upon the Sabine Farm!