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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Contentment
By Horace (65–8 B.C.)
 
Translation of William Cranston Lawton

HORACE—What did you think, my friend, of far-famed Lesbos and Chios?
How about Samos the dainty, and Crœsus’s capital, Sardis?
Colophon, too, and Smyrna? Above their fame, or beneath it?
Tiber’s stream and the Campus excel them far, do you tell me?
Have you been praying for one of Attalus’s cities, I wonder?        5
Lebedos is it you praise, of the sea and your journeyings wearied?
  Bullatius—Yes! You know what Lebedos is: more dead than Fidenæ.
Ay, or than Gabii; yet I would gladly abide there, forgetting
Those I have loved, and expecting that they in their turn will forget me.
There I would dwell, and gaze from the shore on the furious waters.        10
  Horace—If a man travel in mud and in rain from Capua Rome-ward,
Drenched though he be, he will choose not to tarry for life in the tavern.
Even when chilled to the bones, we praise not the bath and the furnace,
Truly believing that they would make life full and successful;
Nor, if impetuous Auster has tossed you about on the billow,        15
Would you for that get rid of your vessel beyond the Ægean.
If you are perfectly sound, then Rhodes and fair Mitylene
Help you no more than a cloak in the dog-days, trunks in midwinter,
Or in December a plunge in the Tiber, a furnace in August.
Now that you may, and the face of Fortune is smiling upon you,        20
Here at Rome praise far-off Rhodes, and Chios, and Samos.
This one hour that a god has bestowed upon you in his bounty,
Take with a grateful hand, nor plan next year to be happy:
So that wherever your life may be spent, you will say you enjoyed it.
For if anxieties only by reason and foresight are banished,—        25
Not by a spot that commands some outlook wide on the waters,—
Never our nature, but only the sky do we change as we travel.
Toilsome idleness wears us out. On wagon and shipboard
Comfort it is that we seek; yet that which you seek, it is with you,
Even in Ulubræ, if you lack not contentment of spirit.        30
 
 
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