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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Translations
The Second Epode of Horace
 
HOW 1 happy in his low degree,
How rich in humble Poverty, is he,
Who leads a quiet country life!
Discharg’d of business, void of strife,
And from the gripeing Scrivener free.        5
(Thus, e’re the Seeds of Vice were sown,
  Liv’d Men in better Ages born,
Who Plow’d, with Oxen of their own,
  Their small paternal field of Corn.)
Nor Trumpets summon him to War        10
  Nor drums disturb his morning Sleep,
Nor knows he Merchants gainful care,
  Nor fears the dangers of the deep.
The clamours of contentious Law,
  And Court and state, he wisely shuns,        15
Nor brib’d with hopes, nor dar’d with awe,
  To servile Salutations runs;
But either to the clasping Vine
  Does the supporting Poplar Wed,
Or with his pruneing hook disjoyn        20
  Unbearing Branches from their Head,
  And grafts more happy in their stead:
Or climbing to a hilly steep,
  He views his Herds in Vales afar,
Or Sheers his overburden’d Sheep,        25
  Or mead for cooling drink prepares
  Of Virgin honey in the Jars.
Or in the now declining year,
  When bounteous Autumn rears his head,
He joyes to pull the ripen’d Pear,        30
  And clustring Grapes with purple spread.
The fairest of his fruit he serves,
  Priapus thy rewards:
Sylvanus too his part deserves,
  Whose care the fences guards.        35
Sometimes beneath an ancient Oak,
  Or on the matted grass he lies:
No God of Sleep he need invoke;
  The stream, that o’re the pebbles flies,
  With gentle slumber crowns his Eyes.        40
The Wind, that Whistles through the sprays,
  Maintains the consort of the Song;
And hidden Birds, with native layes,
  The golden sleep prolong.
But when the blast of Winter blows,        45
  And hoary frost inverts the year,
Into the naked Woods he goes,
  And seeks the tusky Boar to rear,
  With well mouth’d hounds and pointed Spear.
Or spreads his subtile Nets from sight        50
  With twinckling glasses to betray
The Larkes that in the Meshes light,
  Or makes the fearful Hare his prey.
Amidst his harmless easie joys
  No anxious care invades his health,        55
Nor Love his peace of mind destroys,
  Nor wicked avarice of Wealth.
But if a chast and pleasing Wife,
To ease the business of his Life,
Divides with him his houshold care,        60
Such as the Sabine Matrons were,
Such as the swift Apulians Bride,
  Sunburnt and Swarthy tho’ she be,
Will fire for Winter Nights provide,
  And without noise will oversee        65
  His Children and his Family,
And order all things till he come,
Sweaty and overlabour’d, home;
If she in pens his Flocks will fold,
  And then produce her Dairy store,        70
With Wine to drive away the cold,
  And unbought dainties of the poor;
Not Oysters of the Lucrine Lake
  My sober appetite wou’d wish,
  Not Turbet, or the Foreign Fish        75
That rowling Tempests overtake,
  And hither waft the costly dish.
Not Healthpout, or the rarer Bird,
  Which Phasis, or Ionia yields,
More pleasing morsels wou’d afford        80
  Than the fat Olives of my fields;
Than Shards or Mallows for the pot,
  That keep the loosen’d Body sound
Or than the Lamb, that falls by Lot,
  To the just Guardian of my ground.        85
Amidst these feasts of happy Swains,
  The jolly Shepheard smiles to see
His flock returning from the Plains;
  The farmer is as pleas’d as he,
To view his Oxen, sweating smoak,        90
Bear on their Necks the loosen’d Yoke:
To look upon his menial Crew,
  That sit around his cheerful hearth,
And bodies spent in toil renew
  With wholesome Food and Country Mirth.        95
This Morecraft said within himself;
  Resolv’d to leave the wicked Town;
  And live retir’d upon his own;
He call’d his Mony in:
  But the prevailing love of pelf        100
  Soon split him on the former shelf,
And put it out again.
 
Note 1. Text from the original of 1685. [back]
 
 
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