Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
The Twenty-ninth Ode of the Third Book of Horace;
Paraphrased in Pindarick Verse, and inscribed to the Right Hon. Laurence, Earl of Rochester
  DESCENDED 1 of an ancient Line,
    That long the Tuscan Scepter sway’d,
  Make haste to meet the generous Wine,
    Whose piercing is for thee delay’d:
  The rosie wreath is ready made;        5
    And artful hands prepare
The fragrant Syrian Oyl, that shall perfume thy hair.
When the Wine sparkles from a far,
  And the well-natur’d Friend cries, come away;
Make haste, and leave thy business and thy care:        10
  No mortal int’rest can be 2 worth thy stay.
Leave for a while thy costly Country Seat;
  And, to be Great indeed, forget
The nauseous pleasure of the Great:
  Make haste and come:        15
  Come, and forsake thy cloying store;
    Thy Turret that surveys, from high,
  The smoke, and wealth, and noise of Rome;
    And all the busie pageantry
  That wise men scorn, and fools adore:        20
Come, give thy Soul a loose, and taste the pleasures of the poor.
Sometimes ’tis grateful to the Rich, to try
A short vicissitude, and fit of Poverty:
  A savoury Dish, a homely Treat,
  Where all is plain, where all is neat,        25
  Without the stately spacious Room,
The Persian Carpet, or the Tyrian Loom,
Clear up the cloudy foreheads of the Great.
  The Sun is in the Lion mounted high;
          The Syrian Star        30
          Barks from afar,
  And with his sultry breath infects the Sky;
The ground below is parch’d, the heav’ns above us fry.
  The Shepheard drives his fainting Flock
  Beneath the covert of a Rock,        35
  And seeks refreshing Rivulets nigh
  The Sylvans to their shades retire,
Those very shades and streams new shades and streams require,
And want a cooling breeze of wind to fan the raging fire.
  Thou, what befits the new Lord May’r,
  And what the City Faction 3 dare,
  And what the Gallique arms will do,
  And what the Quiverbearing foe,
  Art anxiously inquisitive to know:
But God has, wisely, hid from humane sight        45
  The dark decrees of future fate;
  And sown their seeds in depth of night;
He laughs at all the giddy turns of State;
When Mortals search too soon, and fear too late.
  Enjoy the present smiling hour;
  And put it out of Fortunes pow’r:
The tide of bus’ness, like the running stream,
  Is sometimes high, and sometimes low,
A quiet ebb, or a tempestuous flow,
    And alwayes in extream.        55
  Now with a noiseless gentle course
  It keeps within the middle Bed;
  Anon it lifts aloft the head,
And bears down all before it with impetuous force:
    And trunks of Trees come rowling down,        60
    Sheep and their Folds together drown:
  Both House and Homested into Seas are borne;
  And Rocks are from their old foundations torn,
And woods, made thin with winds, their scatter’d honours mourn.
    Happy the Man, and happy he alone,
      He, who can call to day his own:
      He who, secure within, can say,
    To morrow do thy worst, for I have liv’d to-day.
      Be fair, or foul, or rain, or shine,
    The joys I have possest, in spight of fate, are mine.        70
    Not Heav’n it self upon the past has pow’r;
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
      Fortune, that with malicious joy
        Does Man her slave oppress,
      Proud of her Office to destory,        75
        Is seldome pleas’d to bless:
      Still various, and unconstant still,
    But with an inclination to be ill.
      Promotes, degrades, delights in strife,
      And makes a Lottery of life.        80
    I can enjoy her while she’s kind;
But when she dances in the wind,
    And shakes the wings, and will not stay,
    I puff the Prostitute away:
The little or the much she gave, is quietly resign’d:        85
  Content with poverty, my Soul I arm;
  And Vertue, tho’ in rags, will keep me warm.
            What is’t to me,
  Who never sail in her unfaithful Sea,
    If Storms arise, and Clouds grow black;        90
    If the Mast split, and threaten wreck?
  Then let the greedy Merchant fear
      For his ill gotten gain;
  And pray to Gods that will not hear,
While the debating winds and billows bear        95
      His Wealth into the Main
    For me, secure from Fortunes blows
    (Secure of what I cannot lose,)
    In my small Pinnace I can sail,
    Contemning all the blustring roar;        100
      And running with a merry gale,
    With friendly Stars my safety seek
    Within some little winding Creek;
      And see the storm a shore.
Note 1. Text from the original of 1685. Title. Third] All the English editors wrongly change this into First. [back]
Note 2. be] by 1685. A misprint. [back]
Note 3. Faction] All the English editors wrongly give Factions. [back]

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