I hate the vulgar crowd, and keep them away:
grant me your silence. A priest of the Muses,
I sing a song never heard before,
I sing a song for young women and boys.
The power of dread kings over their peoples,
is the power Jove has over those kings themselves,
famed for his defeat of the Giants,
controlling all with a nod of his head.
It’s true that one man will lay out his vineyards
over wider acres than will his neighbour,
that one candidate who descends to
the Campus, will maintain that he’s nobler,
another’s more famous, or has a larger
crowd of followers: but Necessity sorts
the fates of high and low with equal
justice: the roomy urn holds every name.
Sicilian feasts won’t supply sweet flavours
to the man above whose impious head hangs
a naked sword, nor will the singing
of birds or the playing of zithers bring back
soft sleep. But gentle slumber doesn’t despise
the humble house of a rural labourer,
or a riverbank deep in the shade,
or the vale of Tempe, stirred by the breeze.
He who only longs for what is sufficient,
is never disturbed by tumultuous seas,
nor the savage power of Arcturus
setting, nor the strength of the Kids rising,
nor his vineyards being lashed by the hailstones,
nor his treacherous farmland, rain being blamed
for the state of the trees, the dog-star
parching the fields, or the cruel winter.
The fish can feel that the channel’s narrowing,
when piles are driven deep: the builder, his team
of workers, the lord who scorns the land
pour the rubble down into the waters.
But Fear and Menace climb up to the same place
where the lord climbs up, and dark Care will not leave
the bronze-clad trireme, and even sits
behind the horseman when he’s out riding.
So if neither Phrygian stone, nor purple,
brighter than the constellations, can solace
the grieving man, nor Falernian
wine, nor the perfumes purchased from Persia,
why should I build a regal hall in modern
style, with lofty columns to stir up envy?
Why should I change my Sabine valley,
for the heavier burden of excess wealth?