The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 1/Part 16

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XVI.

O matre pulchra.

O LOVELIER than the lovely dame
That bore you, sentence as you please
Those scurril verses, be it flame
Your vengeance craves, or Hadrian seas.
Not Cybele, nor he that haunts
Rich Pytho, worse the brain confounds,
Not Bacchus, nor the Corybants
Clash their loud gongs with fiercer sounds

Than savage wrath; nor sword nor spear
Appals it, no, nor ocean's frown,
Nor ravening fire, nor Jupiter
In hideous ruin crashing down.
Prometheus, forced, they say, to add
To his prime clay some favourite part
From every kind, took lion mad,
And lodged its gall in man's poor heart.
'Twas wrath that laid Thyestes low;
'Tis wrath that oft destruction calls
On cities, and invites the foe
To drive his plough o'er ruin'd walls.
Then calm your spirit; I can tell
How once, when youth in all my veins
Was glowing, blind with rage, I fell
On friend and foe in ribald strains.
Come, let me change my sour for sweet,
And smile complacent as before:
Hear me my palinode repeat,
And give me back your heart once more.