Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Italy
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Italy: Vols. XI–XIII.  1876–79.
The Sabine Farm
Horace (65–8 B.C.)
(From Satire VI)
Translated by Philip Francis

I OFTEN wished I had a farm,
A decent dwelling snug and warm,
A garden, and a spring as pure
As crystal running by my door,
Besides a little ancient grove,        5
Where at my leisure I might rove.
  The gracious gods, to crown my bliss,
Have granted this, and more than this;
I have enough in my possessing;
’T is well: I ask no greater blessing,        10
O Hermes! than remote from strife
To have and hold them for my life.
  If I was never known to raise
My fortune by dishonest ways,
Nor, like the spendthrifts of the times,        15
Shall ever sink it by my crimes:
If thus I neither pray nor ponder,—
O, might I have that angle yonder,
Which disproportions now my field,
What satisfaction it would yield!        20
O that some lucky chance but threw
A pot of silver in my view,
As lately to the man, who bought
The very land in which he wrought!
If I am pleased with my condition,        25
O, hear, and grant this last petition:
Indulgent, let my cattle batten,
Let all things, but my fancy, fatten,
And thou continue still to guard,
As thou art wont, thy suppliant bard.        30
  Whenever, therefore, I retreat
From Rome into my Sabine seat,
By mountains fenced on either side,
And in my castle fortified,
What can I write with greater pleasure,        35
Than satires in familiar measure?
Nor mad ambition there destroys,
Nor sickly wind my health annoys;
Nor noxious autumn gives me pain,
The ruthless undertaker’s gain.
*        *        *        *        *
  Thus, in this giddy, busy maze
I lose the sunshine of my days,
And oft, with fervent wish repeat,
“When shall I see my sweet retreat?
O, when with books of sages deep,        45
Sequestered ease, and gentle sleep,
In sweet oblivion, blissful balm!
The busy cares of life becalm?
O, when shall I enrich my veins,
Spite of Pythagoras, with beans?        50
Or live luxurious in my cottage,
On bacon ham and savory pottage?
O joyous nights! delicious feasts!
At which the gods might be my guests.”
  My friends and I regaled, my slaves        55
Enjoy what their rich master leaves.
There every guest may drink and fill
As much or little as he will,
Exempted from the bedlam-rules
Of roaring prodigals and fools:        60
Whether, in merry mood or whim,
He fills his bumper to the brim,
Or, better pleased to let it pass,
Grows mellow with a moderate glass.
  Nor this man’s house, nor that’s estate,        65
Becomes the subject of debate;
Nor whether Lepos, the buffoon,
Can dance, or not, a rigadoon;
But what concerns us more, I trow,
And were a scandal not to know:        70
Whether our bliss consist in store
Of riches, or in virtue’s lore;
Whether esteem, or private ends,
Should guide us in the choice of friends;
Or what, if rightly understood,        75
Man’s real bliss, and sovereign good.
*        *        *        *        *

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