The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 3/Part 4

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IV.

Descende cœlo.

COME down, Calliope, from above:
Breathe on the pipe a strain of fire:
Or if a graver note thou love,
With Phœbus' cittern and his lyre.

You hear her? or is this the play
Of fond illusion? Hark! meseems
Through gardens of the good I stray,
'Mid murmuring gales and purling streams.
Me, as I lay on Vultur's steep,
A truant past Apulia's bound,
O'ertired, poor child, with play and sleep,
With living green the stock-doves crown'd—
A legend, nay, a miracle,
By Acherontia's nestlings told,
By all in Bantine glade that dwell,
Or till the rich Forentan mould.
"Bears, vipers, spared him as he lay,
The sacred garland deck'd his hair,
The myrtle blended with the bay:
The child's inspired: the gods were there."
Your grace, sweet Muses, shields me still
On Sabine heights, or lets me range
Where cool Præneste, Tibur's hill,
Or liquid Baiæ proffers change.

Me to your springs, your dances true,
Philippi bore not to the ground,
Nor the doom'd tree in falling slew,
Nor billowy Palinurus drown'd.
Grant me your presence, blithe and fain
Mad Bosporus shall my bark explore;
My foot shall tread the sandy plain
That glows beside Assyria's shore;
'Mid Briton tribes, the stranger's foe,
And Spaniards, drunk with horses' blood,
And quiver'd Scythians, will I go
Unharm'd, and look on Tanais' flood.
When Cæsar's self in peaceful town
The weary veteran's home has made,
You bid him lay his helmet down
And rest in your Pierian shade.
Mild thoughts you plant, and joy to see
Mild thoughts take root. The nations know
How with descending thunder He
The impious Titans hurl'd below,
Who rules dull earth and stormy seas,
And towns of men, and realms of pain,
And gods, and mortal companies,
Alone, impartial in his reign.
Yet Jove had fear'd the giant rush,
Their upraised arms, their port of pride,
And the twin brethren bent to push
Huge Pelion up Olympus' side.
But Typhon, Mimas, what could these,
Or what Porphyrion's stalwart scorn,

Rhœtus, or he whose spears were trees,
Enceladus, from earth uptorn,
As on they rush'd in mad career
'Gainst Pallas' shield? Here met the foe
Fierce Vulcan, queenly Juno here,
And he who ne'er shall quit his bow,
Who laves in clear Castalian flood
His locks, and loves the leafy growth
Of Lycia next his native wood
,
The Delian and the Pataran both.
Strength, mindless, falls by its own weight;
Strength, mix'd with mind, is made more strong
By the just gods, who surely hate
The strength whose thoughts are set on wrong.
Let hundred-handed Gyas bear
His witness, and Orion known
Tempter of Dian, chaste and fair,
By Dian's maiden dart o'erthrown.
Hurl'd on the monstrous shapes she bred,
Earth groans, and mourns her children thrust
To Orcus; Ætna's weight of lead
Keeps down the fire that breaks its crust;
Still sits the bird on Tityos' breast,
The warder of unlawful love;
Still suffers lewd Pirithous, prest
By massive chains no hand may move.