Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPODE: 2. THE PRAISES OF A COUNTRY LIFE, by QUINTUS HORATIUS FLACCUS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

EPODE: 2. THE PRAISES OF A COUNTRY LIFE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Happy is he, that from all business clear
Last Line: At the calends, puts all out again.
Alternate Author Name(s): Horace
Subject(s): Country Life

Happy is he, that from all business clear,
As the old race of mankind were,
With his own oxen tills his sire's left lands,
And is not in the usurer's bands:
Nor soldier-like started with rough alarms,
Nor dreads the sea's enraged harms:
But flees the bar and courts, with the proud boards,
And waiting chambers of great lords.
The poplar tall, he then doth marrying twine
With the grown issue of the vine;
And with his hook lops off the fruitless race,
And sets more happy in the place:
Or in the bending vale beholds afar
The lowing herds there grazing are:
Or the pressed honey in pure pots doth keep
Of earth, and shears the tender sheep:
Or when that Autumn, through the fields lifts round
His head, with mellow apples crowned,
How plucking pears, his own hand grafted had,
And purple-matching grapes, he's glad!
With which, Priapus, he may thank thy hands,
And, Sylvan, thine that kept'st his lands!
Then now beneath some ancient oak he may,
Now in the rooted grass him lay,
Whilst from the higher banks do slide the floods;
The soft birds quarrel in the woods,
The fountains murmur as the streams do creep,
And all invite to easy sleep.
Then when the thundering Jove his snow and showers
Are gathering by the wintry hours;
Or hence, or thence, he drives with many a hound
Wild boars into his toils pitched round:
Or strains on his small fork his subtle nets
For the eating thrush, or pitfalls sets:
And snares the fearful hare, and new-come crane,
And 'counts them sweet rewards so ta'en.
Who (amongst these delights) would not forget
Love's cares so evil, and so great?
But if, to boot with these, a chaste wife meet
For household aid, and children sweet;
Such as the Sabines, or a sun-burnt blowse,
Some lusty quick Apulian's spouse,
To deck the hallowed hearth with old wood fired
Against the husband comes home tired;
That penning the glad flock in hurdles by,
Their swelling udders doth draw dry:
And from the sweet tub wine of this year takes,
And unbought viands ready makes:
Nor Lucrine oysters I could then more prize,
Nor turbot, nor bright golden-eyes:
If with bright floods, the winter troubled much,
Into our seas send any such:
The Ionian godwit, nor the guinea hen
Could not go down my belly then
More sweet than olives, that new gathered be
From fattest branches of the tree:
Or the herb sorrel, that loves meadows still,
Or mallows loosing body's ill:
Or at the feast of bounds, the lamb then slain,
Or kid forced from the wolf again.
Among these cates how glad the sight doth come
Of the fed flocks approaching home!
To view the weary oxen draw, with bare
And fainting necks, the turned share!
The wealthy household swarm of bondmen met,
And 'bout the steaming chimney set!
These thoughts when usurer Alphius, now about
To turn mere farmer, had spoke out,
'Gainst the ides, his monies he gets in with pain,
At the calends, puts all out again.

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