The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 2/Part 18

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XVIII.

Non ebur.

CARVEN ivory have I none;
No golden cornice in my dwelling shines;
Pillars choice of Libyan stone
Upbear no architrave from Attic mines;
'Twas not mine to enter in
To Attalus' broad realms, an unknown heir,
Nor for me fair clients spin
Laconian purples for their patron's wear.
Truth is mine, and Genius mine;
The rich man comes, and knocks at my low door:
Favour'd thus, I ne'er repine,
Nor weary out indulgent Heaven for more:
In my Sabine homestead blest,
Why should I further tax a generous friend?
Suns are hurrying suns a-west,
And newborn moons make speed to meet their end.

You have hands to square and hew
Vast marble-blocks, hard on your day of doom,
Ever building mansions new,
Nor thinking of the mansion of the tomb.
Now you press on ocean's bound,
Where waves on Baiæ beat, as earth were scant;
Now absorb your neighbour's ground,
And tear his landmarks up, your own to plant.

Hedges set round clients' farms
Your avarice tramples; see, the outcasts fly,
Wife and husband, in their arms
Their fathers' gods, their squalid family.
Yet no hall that wealth e'er plann'd
Waits you more surely than the wider room
Traced by Death's yet greedier hand.

Why strain so far p you cannot leap the tomb.
Earth removes the impartial sod
Alike for beggar and for monarch's child:
Nor the slave of Hell's dark god
Convey'd Prometheus back, with bribe beguiled.
Pelops he and Pelops' sire
Holds, spite of pride, in close captivity;
Beggars, who of labour tire,
Call'd or uncall'd, he hears and sets them free.