The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 1/Part 3

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III.

Sic te Diva.

THUS may Cyprus' heavenly queen,
Thus Helen's brethren, stars of brightest sheen,
Guide thee! May the Sire of wind
Each truant gale, save only Zephyr, bind!
So do thou, fair ship, that ow'st
Virgil, thy precious freight, to Attic coast,

Safe restore thy loan and whole,
And save from death the partner of my soul!
Oak and brass of triple fold
Encompass'd sure that heart, which first made bold
To the raging sea to trust
A fragile bark, nor fear'd the Afric gust
With its Northern mates at strife,
Nor Hyads' frown, nor South-wind fury-rife,
Mightiest power that Hadria knows,
Wills he the waves to madden or compose.
What had Death in store to awe
Those eyes, that huge sea-beasts unmelting saw,
Saw the swelling of the surge,
And high Ceraunian cliffs, the seaman's scourge?
Heaven's high providence in vain
Has sever'd countries with the estranging main,
If our vessels ne'ertheless
With reckless plunge that sacred bar transgress.
Daring all, their goal to win,
Men tread forbidden ground, and rush on sin:
Daring all, Prometheus play'd
His wily game, and fire to man convey'd;
Soon as fire was stolen away,
Pale Fever's stranger host and wan Decay
Swept o'er earth's polluted face,
And slow Fate quicken'd Death's once halting pace.
Dædalus the void air tried
On wings, to humankind by Heaven denied;
Acheron's bar gave way with ease
Before the arm of labouring Hercules.

Nought is there for man too high;
Our impious folly e'en would climb the sky,
Braves the dweller on the steep,
Nor lets the bolts of heavenly vengeance sleep.