Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Quid Aeternis Minorem Consiliis Animum Fatigas?

Matthew Arnold, Horatian Echo (To an Ambitious Friend):
Omit, omit, my simple friend,
Still to enquire how parties tend,
Or what we fix with foreign powers.
If France and we are really friends,
And what the Russian Czar intends,
    Is no concern of ours.

Us not the daily quickening race
Of the invading populace
Shall draw to swell that shouldering herd.
Mourn will we not your closing hour,
Ye imbeciles in present power,
    Doom'd, pompous, and absurd!

And let us bear, that they debate
Of all the engine-work of state,
Of commerce, laws, and policy,
The secrets of the world's machine,
And what the rights of man may mean,
    With readier tongue than we.

Only, that with no finer art
They cloak the troubles of the heart
With pleasant smile, let us take care;
Nor with a lighter hand dispose
Fresh garlands of this dewy rose,
    To crown Eugenia's hair.

Of little threads our life is spun,
And he spins ill, who misses one.
But is thy fair Eugenia cold?
Yet Helen had an equal grace,
And Juliet's was as fair a face,
    And now their years are told.

The day approaches, when we must
Be crumbling bones and windy dust;
And scorn us as our mistress may,
Her beauty will no better be
Than the poor face she slights in thee,
    When dawns that day, that day.
Arnold echoes chiefly Horace, Ode 2.11 (tr. W.S. Marris):
The Goths beyond the sea may plot,
  The warlike Basques may plan,
Friend, never heed them! vex thee not
    For this our mortal span

Of little wants. Youth's halcyon day
  Soon goes with all its gleams,
And wizened Age drives far away
  Light loves and easy dreams.

The warmth of April buds will wane,
  The ruddy Moon will change:
Why must thou tax a puny brain
  With schemes beyond its range?

No! 'neath the lofty lime or pine
  Reposing while we may
Bedewed with scent, while roses twine
  Our hair already grey,

Here lie and drink. Wine blows away
  The gnats of care. Go, slave,
Quick, this Falernian's fire allay
  In yonder rushing wave.

Coax Lyde from her lurking-place,
  With ivory lute arrayed,
Her tresses knotted with the grace
  That marks the Spartan maid.

Quid bellicosus Cantaber et Scythes,
Hirpine Quincti, cogitet Hadria
    divisus obiecto, remittas
    quaerere, nec trepides in usum

poscentis aevi pauca: fugit retro
levis iuventas et decor, arida
    pellente lascivos amores
    canitie facilemque somnum.

non semper idem floribus est honor
vernis, neque uno Luna rubens nitet
    vultu: quid aeternis minorem
    consiliis animum fatigas?

cur non sub alta vel platano vel hac
pinu iacentes sic temere et rosa
    canos odorati capillos,
    dum licet, Assyriaque nardo

potamus uncti? dissipat Euhius
curas edacis. quis puer ocius
    restinguet ardentis Falerni
    pocula praetereunte lympha?

quis devium scortum eliciet domo
Lyden? eburna dic, age, cum lyra
    maturet, in comptum Lacaenae
    more comas religata nodum.

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