Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NON EST MEUM, SI MUGIAT AFRICUS MALUS PROCELLIS ..., by JOHN BYROM



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NON EST MEUM, SI MUGIAT AFRICUS MALUS PROCELLIS ..., by             Poet's Biography
First Line: This passage, sirs, may put ye, one would think
Last Line: I thank my stars, I'm rowing safe to shore.
Subject(s): Horace (65-8 B.c.); Poetry & Poets


THIS passage, Sirs, may put ye, one would think,
In mind of him, who, in a furious storm,
Told that the vessel certainly would sink,
Made a reply in the Horatian form;
"Why, let it sink, then, if it will," quoth he,
"I'm but a passenger, what is't to me?"

So "non est meum," Horace here cries out,
"To purchase calm with wretched vows and pray'rs;
"Let them who freight the ship be thus devout,
"I'm not concern'd in any of its wares."
May not one ask, if common sense will read,
Was ever jest and earnest more agreed?

"Nay, but you see the reason," 'tis replied,
"Why he rejects the bargaining of pray'r;
"His little skiff will stem the raging tide
"With double Pollux and with gentler air.
"This is his moral," say his under-pullers,
"The poor and innocent are safe in scullers."

Why, so they may be, if they coast along,
And shun the winds that make a mast to moan,
But here, according to the critic throng,
Horace was in the ship, tho' not his own.
Suppose a sculler just contriv'd for him,
When the ship sunk, would his biremis swim?

Can you by any construing pretence,
(If you suppose, as commentators do,
Him in the Ship) make tolerable sense
Of his surviving all the sinking crew?
With winds so boist'rous, by what cunning twist
Can his clear stars and gentle air resist?

"The gifts of fortune Horace had resign'd,
"And poor and honest his just fancy'd case,
"Nothing to do had he with stormy wind,
"Nor in Ægean seas to seek a place.
"How is it likely, then, that he should mean
"To paint himself in such an awkward scene?

Why, but TUM me biremis must suppose,
By then escaping that he sure was in't;
And feret too, that comes into the close
In all the books that we have here in print—
Both words are wrong tho', notwithstanding that,
Tum should be cum, and feret be ferat.

The sense or moral, if you please, is this,—
Henceforth be probity, tho' poor, my lot,
The love of riches is but an abyss
Of dangerous cares, that now concern me not.
Caught in its storms, let avarice implore,
I thank my stars, I'm rowing safe to shore.





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