Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SATIRE: 5, by AULUS PERSIUS FLACCUS



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SATIRE: 5, by            
First Line: Of ancient use to poets it belongs
Last Line: As a clipt sixpence, or a schilling dutch.
Alternate Author Name(s): Persius
Subject(s): Cornutus, Lucian Annaeus (1st Century)


PERS.

OF ancient use to Poets it belongs,
To wish themselves an hundred Mouths and Tongues:
Whether to the well-lung'd Tragedians Rage
They recommend their Labours of the Stage,
Or sing the Parthian, when transfix'd he lies,
Wrenching the Roman Javelin from his thighs.

CORN.

And why wou'dst thou these mighty Morsels chuse,
Of Words unchaw'd, and fit to choak the Muse?
Let Fustian Poets with their Stuff be gone,
And suck the Mists that hang o're Helicon;
When Progne's or Thyestes's Feast they write;
And, for the mouthing Actor, Verse indite.
Thou neither, like a Bellows, swell'st thy Face,
As if thou wert to blow the burning Mass
Of melting Ore; nor can'st thou strain thy Throat,
Or murmur in an undistinguish'd Note;
Like rowling Thunder, till it breaks the Cloud,
And rattling Nonsense is discharg'd aloud.
Soft Elocution does thy Stile renown,
And the sweet Accents of the peaceful Gown:
Gentle or sharp, according to thy choice,
To laugh at Follies, or to lash at Vice.
Hence draw thy Theme, and to the Stage permit
Raw-head and Bloody-Bones, and Hands and Feet,
Ragousts for Tereus or Thyestes drest;
'Tis Task enough for thee t' expose a Roman Feast.

PERS.

'Tis not, indeed, my Talent to engage
In lofty Trifles, or to swell my Page
With Wind and Noise; but freely to impart,
As to a Friend, the Secrets of my heart;
And, in familiar Speech, to let thee know
How much I love thee, and how much I owe.
Knock on my Heart: for thou hast skill to find
If it sound solid, or be fill'd with Wind;
And, thro the veil of words, thou view'st the naked Mind.
For this a hundred Voices I desire,
To tell thee what an hundred Tongues wou'd tire;
Yet never cou'd be worthily exprest,
How deeply thou art seated in my Breast.
When first my Childish Robe resign'd the charge;
And left me, unconfin'd, to live at large;
When now my golden Bulla (hung on high)
To House-hold Gods) declar'd me past a Boy;
And my white Shield proclaim'd my Liberty;
When with my wild Companions, I could rowl
From Street to Street, and sin without controul;
Just at that Age, when Manhood set me free,
I then depos'd my self, and left the Reins to thee.
On thy wise Bosom I repos'd my Head;
And by my better Socrates was bred.
Then, thy streight Rule set Virtue in my sight,
The crooked Line reforming by the right.
My Reason took the bent of thy Command,
Was form'd and polish'd by thy skilful hand:
Long Summer-days thy Precepts I reherse;
And Winter-nights were short in our converse:
One was our Labour, one was our Repose;
One frugal Supper did our Studies close.
Sure on our Birth some friendly Planet shone:
And, as our Souls, our Horoscope was one
Whether the mounting Twins did Heav'n adorn,
Or with the rising Ballance we were born;
Both have the same Impressions from above;
And both have Saturn's rage repell'd by Jove.
What Star I know not, but some Star I find,
Has given Thee an Ascendant o're my Mind.

CORN.

Nature is ever various in her Frame:
Each has a different Will; and few the same:
The greedy Merchants, led by lucre, run
To the parch'd Indies, and the rising Sun;
From thence hot Pepper, and rich Drugs they bear,
Bart'ring for Spices their Italian Ware:
The lazy Glutton safe at home will keep,
Indulge his Sloth, and batten with his Sleep:
One bribes for high Preferments in the State;
A second shakes the Box, and sits up late
Another shakes the Bed; dissolving there,
Till knots upon his Gouty Joints appear,
And Chalk is in his crippled Fingers found;
Rots like a Doddard Oke, and piecemeal falls to ground.
Then, his lewd Follies he wou'd late repent;
And his past years, that in a Mist were spent.

PERS.

But thou art pale, in nightly Studies, grown,
To make the Stoick Institutes thy own:
Thou long, with studious Care, hast till'd our Youth,
And sown our well-purg'd Ears with wholesom Truth:
From thee both old and young, with profit, learn
The bounds of Good and Evil to discern.

CORN.

Unhappy he who does this Work adjourn;
And to To Morrow would the search delay:
His lazy Morrow will be like to day.

PERS.

But is one day of Ease too much to borrow?

CORN.

Yes, sure: For Yesterday was once To Morrow.
That Yesterday is gone, and nothing gain'd:
And all thy fruitless days will thus be drain'd;
For thou hast more To Morrows yet to ask,
And wilt be ever to begin thy Task;
Who, like the hindmost Chariot Wheels, art curst;
Still to be near; but ne're to reach the first.
O Freedom! first Delight of Humane Kind!
Not that which Bondmen from their Masters find,
The Priviledge of Doles; not yet t' inscribe
Their Names in this or t'other Roman Tribe:
That false Enfranchisement, with ease is found:
Slaves are made Citizens, by turning round.
How, replies one, can any be more free?
Here's Dama, once a Groom of low degree
Not worth a Farthing, and a Sot beside;
So true a Rogue, for lying's sake he ly'd:
But, with a turn, a Freeman he became;
Now Marcus Dama is his Worship's Name:
Good Gods! who wou'd refuse to lend a Sum,
If Wealthy Marcus Surety will become!
Marcus is made a Judge, and for a Proof
Of certain Truth, He said it, is enough.
A Will is to be prov'd; put in your Claim;
'Tis clear, if Marcus has subscrib'd his Name.
This is true Liberty, as I believe;
What farther can we from our Caps receive,
Than as we please, without Control to live?
Not more to Noble Brutus could belong.
Hold, says the Stoick, your Assumption's wrong:
I grant true Freedom you have well defin'd:
But living as you list, and to your mind,
Are loosely tack'd; and must be left behind.
What, since the Praetor did my Fetters loose,
And left me freely at my own dispose,
May I not live without Control or Awe,
Excepting still the Letter of the Law?
Hear me with patience, while thy Mind I free
From those fond Notions of false Liberty:
'Tis not the Praetor's Province to bestow
True Freedom; nor to teach Mankind to know
What to our selves, or to our Friends we owe.
He cou'd not set thee free from Cares and Strife;
Nor give the Reins to a lewd vicious life:
As well he for an Ass a Harp might string,
Which is against the Reason of the thing;
For Reason still is whisp'ring in your Ear,
Where you are sure to fail, th' Attempt forbear.
No need of Publick Sanctions this to bind,
Which Nature has implanted in the Mind:
Not to pursue the Work, to which we're not design'd.
Unskill'd in Hellebore, if thou shou'd'st try
To mix it, and mistake the Quantity,
The Rules of Physick wou'd against thee cry.
The High-shoo'd Ploughman, shou'd he quit the Land,
To take the Pilot's Rudder in his hand,
Artless of Stars, and of the moving Sand,
the Gods wou'd leave him to the Waves and Wind,
And think all Shame was lost in Human-Kind.
Tell me, my Friend, from whence hadst thou the skill,
So nicely to distinguish Good from Ill?
Or by the sound to judge of Gold and Brass;
What piece is Tinkers Metal, what will pass?
And what thou art to follow, what to flye,
This to condemn, and that to ratifie?
When to be Bountiful, and when to Spare,
But never Craving, or oppress'd with Care?
The Baits of Gifts, and Money to despise,
And look on Wealth with undesiring Eyes?
When thou can'st truly call these Virtues thine,
Be Wise and Free, by Heav'n's consent and mine.
But thou, who lately of the common strain,
Wert one of us, if still thou do'st retain
The same ill Habits, the same Follies too,
Gloss'd over only with a Saint-like show,
Then I resume the freedom which I gave,
Still thou art bound to Vice, and still a Slave.
Thou can'st not wag thy Finger, or begin
The least light motion, but it tends to sin.
How's this? Not wag my Finger, he replies?
No, Friend; norfuming Gums, norSacrifice,
Can ever make a Madman free, or wise.
"Virtue and Vice are never in one Soul:
"A Man is wholly Wise, or wholly is a Fool.
A heavy Bumpkin, taught with daily care,
Can never dance three steps with a becoming air.

PERS.

In spight of this, my Freedom still remains.

CORN.

Free, what and fetter'd with so many Chains?
Can'st thou no other Master understand
Than him that freed thee by the Praetor's Wand?
Shou'd he, who was thy Lord, command thee now,
With a harsh Voice, and supercilious Brow,
To servile Duties, thou wou'd'st fear no more;
The Gallows and the Whip are out of door.
But if thy Passions lord it in thy Breast,
Art thou not still a Slave, and still opprest?
Whether alone, or in thy Harlot's Lap,
When thou wou'dst take a lazy Morning's Nap;
Up, up, says Avarice; thou snor'st again,
Stretchest thy Limbs, and yawn'st, but all in vain;
The Tyrant Lucre no denyal takes;
At his Command th' unwilling Sluggard wakes.
What must I do? he cries: What? says his Lord:
Why rise, make ready, and go streight aboord:
With Fish, from Euxine Seas, thy Vessel freight;
Flax, Castor, Coan Wines, the precious Weight
Of Pepper, and Sabean Incense, take
With thy own hands, from the tir'd Camel's back:
And with Post-haste thy running Markets make.
Be sure to turn the Penny: lye and swear;
'Tis wholesom sin: But Jove, thou say'st, will hear:
Swear, Fool, or starve; for the Dilemma's even:
A Tradesman thou! and hope to go to Heav'n?
Resolv'd for Sea, the Slaves thy Baggage pack,
Each saddled, with his Burden on his back;
Nothing retards thy Voyage, now; unless
Thy other Lord forbids, Voluptuousness:
And he may ask this civil Question: Friend,
What do'st thou make a Shipboord? to what end?
Art thou of Bethlem's Noble College free?
Stark, staring mad; that thou wou'dst tempt the Sea?
Cubb'd in a Cabin, on a Mattress laid,
On a Brown George, with lowsie Swobbers, fed,
Dead Wine, that stinks of the Borrachio, sup
From a foul Jack, or greasie Maple Cup?
Say, wou'd'st thou bear all this, to raise thy store
From Six i' th' Hundred, to Six Hundred more?
Indulge, and to thy Genius freely give;
For, not to live at ease, is not to live;
Death stalks behind thee: and each flying Hour
Does some loose Remnant of thy Life devour.
Live, while thou liv'st: For Death will make us all
A Name, a nothing but an Old Wife's Tale.
Speak; wilt thou Avarice, or Pleasure chuse
To be thy Lord? Take one, and one refuse.
But both, by turns, the Rule of thee will have;
And thou, betwixt 'em both, wilt be a Slave.
Nor think when once thou hast resisted one,
That all thy Marks of Servitude are gone:
The strugling Greyhound gnaws his Leash in vain;
If, when 'tis broken, still he drags the Chain.
Says Phaedria to his Man, Believe me, Friend,
To this uneasie Love I'le put an End:
Shall I run out of all? My Friends disgrace,
And be the first lewd Unthrift of my Race?
Shall I the Neighbours Nightly rest invade
At her deaf Doors, with some vile Serenade?
Well hast thou freed thy self, his Man replies;
Go, thank the Gods, and offer Sacrifice.
Ah, says the Youth, if we unkindly part,
Will not the Poor fond Creature break her Heart?
Weak Soul! And blindly to Destruction led!
She break her Heart! She'll sooner break your Head.
She knows her Man, and when you Rant and Swear,
Can draw you to her with a single Hair.
But shall I not return? Now, when she Sues?
Shall I my own, and her Desires refuse?
Sir, take your Course: But my Advice is plain:
Once freed, 'tis Madness to resume your Chain.
Ay; there's the Man, who loos'd from Lust and Pelf,
Less to the Praetor owes, than to himself.
But write him down a Slave, who, humbly proud,
With Presents begs Preferments from the Crowd;
That early Suppliant, who salutes the Tribes,
And sets the Mob to scramble for his Bribes:
That some old Dotard, sitting in the Sun,
On Holydays may tell, that such a Feat was done:
In future times this will be counted rare.
Thy Superstition too may claim a share:
When Flow'rs are strew'd, and Lamps in order plac'd,
And Windows with Illuminations grac'd,
On Herod's Day; when sparkling Bouls go round,
And Tunny's Tails in savoury Sauce are drown'd,
Thou mutter'st Prayers obscene; nor do'st refuse
The Fasts and Sabbaths of the curtail'd Jews.
Then a crack'd Eggshell thy sick Fancy frights,
Besides the Childish Fear of Walking Sprights.
Of o'regrown Guelding Priests thou art afraid:
The Timbrel, and the Squintifego Maid
Of Isis, awe thee: lest the Gods, for sin,
Shou'd, with a swelling Dropsie, stuff thy skin:
Unless three Garlick Heads the Curse avert,
Eaten each Morn, devoutly, next thy heart.
Preach this among the brawny Guards, say'st thou,
And see if they thy Doctrine will allow:
The dull fat Captain, with a Hound's deep throat,
Wou'd bellow out a Laugh, in a Base Note;
And prize a hundred Zeno's just as much
As a clipt Sixpence, or a Schilling Dutch.





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