Horace Book I Ode 5.


Ode I.5

What slender youth, besprinkled with perfume,
Courts you on roses in some grotto's shade?
Fair Pyrrha, say, for whom
Your yellow hair you braid,
So trim, so simple! Ah! how oft shall he
Lament that faith can fail, that gods can change,
Viewing the rough black sea
With eyes to tempests strange,
Who now is basking in your golden smile,
And dreams of you still fancy-free, still kind,
Poor fool, nor knows the guile
Of the deceitful wind!
Woe to the eyes you dazzle without cloud
Untried! For me, they show in yonder fane
My dripping garments, vow'd
To Him who curbs the main.


John Milton’s Translation of Horace Ode I.5


To Pyrrha


What slender youth, bedew’d with liquid odours,

Courts thee on roses in some pleasant cave,

Pyrrha? For whom did’st thou

In wreaths thy golden hair,

Plain in thy neatness? O how oft shall he

On faith and changed gods complain, and seas

Rough with black winds, and storms

Unwonted shall admire!

Who now enjoys thee credulous, all gold,

Who always vacant, always amiable,

Hopes thee, of flattering gales

Unmindful.  Hapless they

To whom thou untried seemest fair.  Me in my vowed

Picture the sacred wall declares to have hung

  My dank and drippings weeds

  To the stern God of sea.



Horace Ode I.10


See, how it stands, one pile of snow,
Soracte! 'neath the pressure yield *
Its groaning woods; the torrents' flow
With clear sharp ice is all congeal'd.
Heap high the logs, and melt the cold,
Good Thaliarch; draw the wine we ask,
That mellower vintage, four-year-old,
From out the cellar'd Sabine cask.
The future trust with Jove; when He
Has still'd the warring tempests' roar
On the vex'd deep, the cypress-tree
And aged ash are rock'd no more.
O, ask not what the morn will bring,
But count as gain each day that chance
May give you; sport in life's young spring,
Nor scorn sweet love, nor merry dance,
While years are green, while sullen eld
Is distant. Now the walk, the game,
The whisper'd talk at sunset held,
Each in its hour, prefer their claim.
Sweet too the laugh, whose feign'd alarm
The hiding-place of beauty tells,
The token, ravish'd from the arm
Or finger, that but ill rebels.



Soracte = mountain near Rome


John Dryden’s Translation of Horace, Ode I.10



Behold yon mountain’s hoary height,

Made higher with new mounts of snow;

Again behold the winter’s weight

Oppress the labouring woods below;

And streams, with icy fetters bound,

Benumbed and cramped to solid ground.



With well-heaped logs dissolve the cold,

And feed the genial hearth with firs;

Produce the wine, that makes us bold,

And sprightly wit and love inspires:

For what hereafter shall betide,

God, if ‘tis worth his care, provide.



Let him alone, with what he made,

To toss and turn the world below;

At his command the storms invade;

The winds by his commission blow;

Till with a nod he bids them cease,

And then the calm returns, and all is peace.



Tomorrow and her works defy,

Lay hold upon the present hour,

And snatch the pleasures passing by,

To put them out of fortune’s power:

Nor love, nor love’s delights disdain;

Whate’er thou gettest today is gain.



Secure those golden early joys

That youth unsoured with sorrow bears,

Ere withering time the taste destroys,

With sickness and unweildly years.

For active sports, for pleasing rest,

This is the time to be possessed;

The best is but in season best.



The pointed hour of promised bliss,

The pleasing whisper in the dark,

The half-unwilling willing kiss,

The laugh that guides thee to the mark,

When the kind nymph would coyness feign,

And hides but to be found again;

These, these are joys the gods for youth ordain.


Horace, Ode I.3

Thus may Cyprus' heavenly queen, *
Thus Helen's brethren, stars of brightest sheen, *
Guide thee! May the Sire of wind
Each truant gale, save only Zephyr, bind!
So do thou, fair ship, that ow'st
Virgil, thy precious freight, to Attic coast, *
Safe restore thy loan and whole,
And save from death the partner of my soul!
Oak and brass of triple fold
Encompass'd sure that heart, which first made bold
To the raging sea to trust
A fragile bark, nor fear'd the Afric gust
With its Northern mates at strife,
Nor Hyads' frown, nor South-wind fury-rife, *
Mightiest power that Hadria knows, *
Wills he the waves to madden or compose.
What had Death in store to awe
Those eyes, that huge sea-beasts unmelting saw,
Saw the swelling of the surge,
And high Ceraunian cliffs, the seaman's scourge? *
Heaven's high providence in vain
Has sever'd countries with the estranging main,
If our vessels ne'ertheless
With reckless plunge that sacred bar transgress.
Daring all, their goal to win,
Men tread forbidden ground, and rush on sin:
Daring all, Prometheus play'd *
His wily game, and fire to man convey'd;
Soon as fire was stolen away,
Pale Fever's stranger host and wan Decay
Swept o'er earth's polluted face,
And slow Fate quicken'd Death's once halting pace.
Daedalus the void air tried *
On wings, to humankind by Heaven denied;
Acheron's bar gave way with ease *
Before the arm of labouring Hercules.
Nought is there for man too high;
Our impious folly e'en would climb the sky,
Braves the dweller on the steep,
Nor lets the bolts of heavenly vengeance sleep.



Cyrpus – island near Turkey

Helen’s bretheren (brothers) = Castor and Pollux, guiding stars

Attic coast = coast of Greece;  Virgil = great epic poet

Hyades = rain-bringing star signs, constellations

Hadria = Etruscan city in N. Italy

Ceraunian = mountains in Albania, north of Greece

Prometheus = stole fire from the gods for man, punished for same

Daedalus = made wax wings to fly toward the sun

Acheron = river in NW Greece but also mythic river or woe in Hades (Hell)



John Dryden’s Translation,

The Third Ode of the First Book of Horace (1685)


Inscribed to the Earl of Roscommon on his Intended Voyage to Ireland


So may the auspicious queen of Love

And the twin stars (the seed of Jove),*

And he who rules the raging wind*

To thee, O sacred ship be kind,

And gentle breezes fill thy sails,

Supplying soft Etesian gales,*

As thou to whom the muse commends,

The best of poets and of friends,

Dost thy committed pledge restore,

And land him safely on the shore;

And save the better part of me,

From perishing with him at sea.

Sure he, who first the passage tried,

In hardened oak his heart did hide,

And ribs of iron armed his side!

Or his at least, in hollow wood,

Who tempted first the briny flood,

Nor feared the woods contending roar,

Nor billows beating on the shore;

Nor Hyades portending rain,*

Nor all the tyrants of the main.

What form of death could him affright,

Who unconcerned with steadfast sight

Could view the surges mounting steep,

And monsters rolling in the deep?

Could through the ranks of ruin go,

With storms above, and rocks below!

In vain did nature’s wise command,

Divide the waters from the land,

If daring ships, and men profane,

Invade the inviolable main:

The eternal fences over-lead

And pass at will the boundless deep.

No toil, no hardship can restrain

Ambitious man inured to pain:

The more confined, the more he tries,

And at the forbidden quarry flies.

Thus bold Prometheus did aspire,

And stole from heaven the seed of fire:

A train of ills, a ghastly crew,

The robber’s blazing track pursue:

Fierce famine, with her meager face,

And fevers of the fiery race,

In swarms the offending wretch surround,

All brooding on the blasted ground:

And limping death lashed on by fate

Comes up to shorten half our date.

This made not Daedalus beware,*

With borrowed wings to sail in air;

To hell Alcides forced his way,*

Plunged through the lake, and snatched the prey.

Nay scarce the gods, or heavenly climes

Are safe from our audacious crimes:

We reach at Jove’s imperial crown,

And pull the unwilling thunder down.                            




Twin stars = Castor and Pollux, said to guide sailors

Who rules the wind = Aeolus, god of winds

Etesian gales = summer winds from the north east

Hyades = rain-bringing star signs, constellations

Daedalus = made wax wings to fly toward the sun

Alcides = Hercules