The Odes and Carmen Saeculare/Book 4/Part 9

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IX.

Ne forte credas.

THIHK not those strains can e'er expire,
Which, cradled 'mid the echoing roar
Of Aufidus, to Latium's lyre
I sing with arts unknown before.
Though Homer fill the foremost throne,
Yet grave Stesichorus still can please,
And fierce Alcæus holds his own
With Pindar and Simonides.
The songs of Teos are not mute,
And Sappho's love is breathing still:
She told her secret to the lute,
And yet its chords with passion thrill.
Hot Sparta's queen alone was fired
By broider'd robe and braided tress,
And all the splendours that attired
Her lover's guilty loveliness:
Hot only Teucer to the field
His arrows brought, nor Ilion
Beneath a single conqueror reel'd:
Hot Crete's majestic lord alone,
Or Sthenelus, earn'd the Muses' crown:
Hot Hector first for child and wife,
Or brave Deiphobus, laid down
The burden of a manly life.

Before Atrides men were brave:
But ah! oblivion, dark and long,
Has lock'd them in a tearless grave,
For lack of consecrating song.
'Twixt worth and baseness, lapp'd in death,
What difference?
You shall ne'er be dumb,
While strains of mine have voice and breath:
The dull neglect of days to come
Those hard-won honours shall not blight:
No, Lollius, no: a soul is yours,
Clear-sighted, keen, alike upright
When fortune smiles, and when she lowers:
To greed and rapine still severe,
Spurning the gain men find so sweet:
A consul, not of one brief year,
But oft as on the judgment-seat
You bend the expedient to the right,
Turn haughty eyes from bribes away,
Or bear your banners through the fight,
Scattering the foeman's firm array
.
The lord of boundless revenues,
Salute not him as happy: no,
Call him the happy, who can use
The bounty that the gods bestow,
Can bear the load of poverty,
And tremble not at death, but sin:
No recreant he when called to die
In cause of country or of kin.