Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SATIRE: 4, by AULUS PERSIUS FLACCUS



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SATIRE: 4, by            
First Line: Who-e're thou art, whose forward years are bent
Last Line: But what thou art; and find the beggar there.
Alternate Author Name(s): Persius
Subject(s): Lucan (Marcus Annaeus Lucanus); Pericles (490-429 B.c.); Socrates (470-399 B.c.)


WHO-E'RE thou art, whose forward years are bent
On State-Affairs, to guide the Government;
Hear, first, what Socrates of old has said
To the lov'd Youth, whom he, at Athens bred.
Tell me, thou Pupil to great Pericles,
Our second hope, my Alcibiades,
What are the grounds, from whence thou dost prepare
To undertake so young, so vast a Care?
Perhaps thy Wit: (A Chance not often heard,
That Parts and Prudence shou'd prevent the Beard:)
'Tis seldom seen that Senators so young
Know when to speak, and when to hold their Tongue.
Sure thou art born to some peculiar Fate;
When the mad People rise against the State,
To look them into Duty; and command
An awful Silence with thy lifted hand.
Then to bespeak 'em thus: Athenians, know
Against right Reason all your Counsels go;
This is not Fair; nor Profitable that;
Nor t'other Question Proper for Debate.
But thou, no doubt, can'st set the business right,
And give each Argument its proper weight:
Know'st, with an equal hand, to hold the Scale:
See'st where the Reasons pinch, and where they fail,
And where Exceptions, o're the general Rule, prevail.
And, taught by Inspiration, in a trice,
Can'st punish Crimes, and brand offending Vice.
Leave; leave to fathom such high points as these,
Nor be ambitious, e're thy time, to please:
Unseasonably Wise, till Age, and Cares,
Have form'd thy Soul, to manage Great Affairs.
Thy Face, thy Shape, thy Outside, are but vain;
Thou hast not strength such Labours to sustain:
Drink Hellebore, my Boy, drink deep, and purge thy brain.
What aim'st thou at, and whither tends thy Care,
In what thy utmost Good? Delicious Fare;
And, then, to Sun thy self in open air.
Hold, hold; are all thy empty Wishes such?
A good old Woman wou'd have said as much.
But thou art nobly born; 'tis true; go boast
Thy Pedigree, the thing thou valu'st most:
Besides thou art a Beau: What's that, my Child?
A Fop, well drest, extravagant, and wild:
She that cries Herbs, has less impertinence;
And, in her Calling, more of common sense.
None, none descends into himself, to find
The secret Imperfections of his Mind:
But ev'ry one is Eagle-ey'd, to see
Another's Faults, and his Deformity.
Say, do'st thou know Vectidius? Who, the Wretch
Whose Lands beyond the Sabines largely stretch;
Cover the Country, that a sailing Kite
Can scarce o'reflye 'em in a day and night;
Him, do'st thou mean, who, spight of all his store,
Is ever Craving, and will still be Poor?
Who cheats for Half-pence, and who doffs his Coat,
To save a Farthing in a Ferry-Boat?
Ever a Glutton, at another's Cost,
But in whose Kitchin dwells perpetual Frost?
Who eats and drinks with his Domestick Slaves;
A verier Hind than any of his Knaves?
Born with the Curse and Anger of the Gods,
And that indulgent Genius he defrauds?
At Harvest-home, and on the Sheering-Day,
When he shou'd Thanks to Pan and Pales pay,
And better Ceres; trembling to approach
The little Barrel, which he fears to broach:
He 'says the Wimble, often draws it back,
And deals to thirsty Servants but a smack.
To a short Meal, he makes a tedious Grace,
Before the Barly Pudding comes in place:
Then, bids fall on; himself, for saving charges,
A peel'd slic'd Onyon eats, and tipples Verjuice.
Thus fares the Drudge: But thou, whose life's a Dream
Of lazy Pleasures, tak'st a worse Extream.
'Tis all thy bus'ness, bus'ness how to shun;
To bask thy naked Body in the Sun;
Suppl'ng thy stiffen'd Joints with fragrant Oyl:
Then, in thy spacious Garden, walk a while,
To suck the Moisture up, and soak it in:
And this, thou think'st, but vainly think'st, unseen.
But, know, thou art observ'd: And there are those
Who, if they durst, would all thy secret sins expose.
The depilation of thy modest part:
Thy Catamite, the Darling of thy Heart,
His Engine-hand, and ev'ry leuder Art.
When prone to bear, and patient to receive,
Thou tak'st the pleasure which thou canst not give.
With odorous Oyl thy head and hair are sleek;
And then thou kemb'st the Tuzzes on thy Cheek:
Of these thy Barbers take a costly care,
While thy salt Tail is overgrown with hair.
Not all thy Pincers, nor unmanly Arts,
Can smooth the roughness of thy shameful parts.
Not five, the strongest that the Circus breeds,
From the rank Soil can root those wicked Weeds:
Though suppled first with Soap, to ease thy pain,
The stubborn Fern springs up, and sprouts again.
Thus others we with Defamations wound,
While they stab us; and so the Jest goes round.
Vain are thy Hopes, to scape censorious Eyes;
Truth will appear, through all the thin Disguise:
Thou hast an Ulcer which no Leach can heal,
Though thy broad Shoulder-belt the Wound conceal.
Say thou art sound and hale in ev'ry part,
We know, we know thee rotten at thy heart.
We know thee sullen, impotent, and proud:
Nor canst thou cheat thy Nerve, who cheat'st the Croud.
But when they praise me, in the Neighbourhood,
When the pleas'd People take me for a God,
Shall I refuse their Incense? Not receive
The loud Applauses which the Vulgar give?
If thou do'st Wealth, with longing Eyes, behold;
And, greedily, art gaping after Gold;
If some alluring Girl, in gliding by,
Shall tip the wink, with a lascivious Eye,
And thou, with a consenting glance, reply;
If thou, thy own Sollicitor become,
And bid'st arise the lumpish Pendulum:
If thy lewd Lust provokes an empty storm,
And prompts to more than Nature can perform;
If, with thy Guards, thou scour'st the Streets by night,
And do'st in Murthers, Rapes, and Spoils delight;
Please not thy self, the flatt'ring Crowd to hear;
'Tis fulsom stuff, to feed thy itching Ear.
Reject the nauseous Praises of the Times:
Give thy base Poets back their cobbled Rhymes:
Survey thy Soul, not what thou do'stappear,
But what thou art; and find the Beggar there.





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