The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 1/Part 28
THE sea, the earth, the innumerable sand,
Archytas, thou couldst measure; now, alas!
A little dust on Matine shore has spann'd
That soaring spirit; vain it was to pass
The gates of heaven, and send thy soul in quest
O'er air's wide realms; for thou hadst yet to die.
Ay, dead is Pelops' father, heaven's own guest,
And old Tithonus, rapt from earth to sky,
And Minos, made the council-friend of Jove;
And Panthus' son has yielded up his breath
Once more, though down he pluck'd the shield, to prove
His prowess under Troy, and bade grim death
O'er skin and nerves alone exert its power,
Not he, you grant, in nature meanly read.
Yes, all "await the inevitable hour;"
The downward journey all one day must tread.
Some bleed, to glut the war-god's savage eyes;
Fate meets the sailor from the hungry brine;
Youth jostles age in funeral obsequies;
Each brow in turn is touch'd by Proserpine.
Me, too, Orion's mate, the Southern blast,
Whelm'd in deep death beneath the Illyrian wave.
But grudge not, sailor, of driven sand to cast
A handful on my head, that owns no grave.
So, though the eastern tempests loudly threat
Hesperia's main, may green Venusia's crown
Be stripp'd, while you lie warm; may blessings yet
Stream from Tarentum's guard, great Neptune, down,
And gracious Jove, into your open lap!
What! shrink you not from crime whose punishment
Falls on your innocent children? it may hap
Imperious Fate will make yourself repent.
My prayers shall reach the avengers of all wrong;
No expiations shall the curse unbind.
Great though your haste, I would not task you long;
Thrice sprinkle dust, then scud before the wind.