The Satires, Epistles & Art of Poetry of Horace/Ep1-3
III. To Julius Florus.
LORUS, I wish to learn, but don't know how,
Where Claudius and his troops are quartered now.
Say, is it Thrace and Hæmus' winter snows,
Or the famed strait 'twixt tower and tower that flows,
Or Asia's rich exuberance of plain
And upland slope, that holds you in its chain?
Inform me too (for that, you will not doubt,
Concerns me), what the ingenious staff's about:
Who writes of Cæsar's triumphs, and portrays
The tale of peace and war for future days?
How thrives friend Titius, who will soon become
A household word in the saloons of Rome;
Who dares to drink of Pindar's well, and looks
With scorn on our cheap tanks and vulgar brooks?
Wastes he a thought on Horace? does he suit
The strains of Thebes or Latium's virgin lute,
By favour of the Muse, or grandly rage
And roll big thunder on the tragic stage?
What is my Celsus doing? oft, in truth,
I've warned him, and he needs it yet, good youth,
To trust himself, nor touch the classic stores
That Palatine Apollo keeps indoors,
Lest when some day the feathered tribe resumes
(You know the tale) the appropriated plumes,
Folks laugh to see him act the jackdaw's part,
Denuded of the dress that looked so smart.
And you, what aims are yours? what thymy ground
Allures the bee to hover round and round?
Not small your wit, nor rugged and unkempt;
'Twill answer bravely to a bold attempt:
Whether you train for pleading, or essay
To practise law, or frame some graceful lay,
The ivy-wreath awaits you. Could you bear
To leave quack nostrums, that but palliate care,
Then might you lean on heavenly wisdom's hand
And use her guidance to a loftier land.
Be this our task, whate'er our station, who
To country and to self would fain be true.
This too concerns me: does Munatius hold
In Florus' heart the place he held of old,
Or is that ugly breach in your good will
We hoped had closed unhealed and gaping still?
Well, be it youth or ignorance of life
That sets your hot ungoverned bloods at strife,
Where'er you bide, 'twere shame to break the ties
Which made you once sworn brethren and allies:
So, when your safe return shall come to pass,
I've got a votive heifer out at grass.