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.
Rome, the Campagna
Rome to Brundusium
Horace (65–8 B.C.)
Satire V

Translated by Philip Francis

LEAVING imperial Rome, my course I steer
To poor Aricia, and its moderate cheer.
From all the Greeks, in rhetorician lore,
The prize of learning my companion bore.
To Forum-Appii thence we steer, a place        5
Stuffed with rank boatmen, and with vintners base,
And laggard into two days’ journey broke
What were but one to less-encumbered folk:
The Appian road, however, yields most pleasure
To those who choose to travel at their leisure.        10
The water here was of so foul a stream
Against my stomach I a war proclaim,
And wait, though not with much good-humor wait,
While with keen appetites my comrades eat.
  Night o’er the earth now spread her dusky shade,        15
And through the heavens her starry train displayed,
What time, between the slaves and boatmen rise
Quarrels of clamorous rout. The boatman cries,
“Step in, my masters!” when with open throat,
“Enough, you scoundrel! will you sink the boat?”        20
Thus, while the mule is harnessed, and we pay
Our freights, an hour in wrangling slips away.
  The fenny frogs with croakings hoarse and deep,
And gnats, loud buzzing, drive away our sleep.
Drenched in the lees of wine, the watery swain        25
And passenger in loud alternate strain
Chant forth the absent fair, who warms his breast,
Till wearied passenger retires to rest.
Our clumsy bargeman sends his mule to graze,
And the rough cable to a rock belays,        30
Then snores supine; but when at rising light
Our boat stood still, up starts a hare-brained wight:
With sallow cudgel breaks the bargeman’s pate,
And bangs the mule at a well-favored rate.
Thence onward laboring with a world of pain,        35
At ten, Feronia, we thy fountain gain:
There land and bathe; then after dinner creep
Three tedious miles, and climb the rocky steep
Whence Anxur shines. Mæcenas was to meet
Cocceius here, to settle things of weight;        40
For they had oft in embassy been joined,
And reconciled the masters of mankind.
Here, while I bathed my eyes with cooling ointment,
They both arrived according to appointment;
Fontcius too, a man of worth approved,        45
And no man more by Antony beloved.
  Laughing we leave an entertainment rare,
The paltry pomp of Fundi’s foolish mayor,
The scrivener Luscus; now with pride elate,
With incense fumed, and big with robes of state.        50
From thence our wearied troop at Formiæ rests,
Murena’s lodgers, and Fonteiust guests.
Next rising morn with double joy we greet,
For Plotius, Varius, Virgil here we meet:
Pure spirits these; the world no purer knows;        55
For none my heart with more affection glows:
How oft did we embrace! our joys how great!
For sure no blessing in the power of fate
Can be compared, in sanity of mind,
To friends of such companionable kind.        60
  Near the Campanian bridge that night we lay,
Where commissaries our expense defray.
Early next morn to Capua we came.
Mæcenas goes to tennis; hurtful game
To a weak stomach, and to tender eyes,        65
So down to sleep with Virgil, Horace lies.
Then by Cocceius we were nobly treated,
Whose house above the Caudian tavern’s seated.
  And now, O Muse, in faithful numbers tell
The memorable squabble that befell,        70
When Messius and Sarmentus joined in fight,
And whence descended each illustrious wight.
Messius, of high descent, from Osci came;
His mistress might her slave Sarmentus claim.
From such famed ancestry our champions rise.        75
“Hear me, thou horse-faced rogue,” Sarmentus cries.
We laugh; when Messius, throwing up his head,
Accepts the challenge. “O,” Sarmentus said,
“If you can threaten now, what would you do,
Had not the horn been rooted out, that grew        80
Full in thy front?” A gash, of deep disgrace,
Had stained the grisly honors of his face:
Then on his country’s infamous disease,
And his own face, his ribaldry displays:
Begs him the one-eyed Cyclops’s part to dance,        85
Since he nor mask nor tragic buskins wants.
  Messius replied, in virulence of strain:
“Did you to Saturn consecrate your chain?
Though you were made a scrivener since your flight,
Yet that can never hurt your lady’s right.        90
But, prithee, wherefore did you run away?
Methinks a single pound of bread a day
Might such a sleek, thin-gutted rogue content.”
And thus the jovial length of night we spent.
  At our next inn our host was almost burned,        95
While some lean thrushes at the fire he turned.
Through his old kitchen rolls the god of fire,
And to the roof the vagrant flames aspire.
But hunger all our terrors overcame,
We fly to save our meat and quench the flame.        100
  Apulia now my native mountains shows,
Where the north-wind burns frore, and parching blows;
Nor could we well have climbed the steepy height,
Did we not at a neighboring village bait,
Where from green wood the smouldering flames arise,        105
And with a smoky sorrow fill our eyes.
  In chariots thence at a large rate we came
Eight leagues, and baited at a town, whose name
Cannot in verse and measures be exprest,
But may by marks and tokens well be guessed.        110
Its water, nature’s cheapest element,
Is bought and sold; its bread most excellent;
Which wary travellers provide with care,
And on their shoulders to Canusium bear,
Whose bread is gritty, and its wealthiest stream        115
Poor as the town’s of unpoetic name.
Here Varius leaves us, and with tears he goes:
With equal tenderness our sorrow flows.
Onward to Rubi wearily we toiled,
The journey long, the road with rain was spoiled        120
To Barium, famed for fish, we reached next day,
The weather fairer, but much worse the way.
Then water-cursed Egnatia gave us joke,
And laughter great to hear the moon-struck folk
Assert, if incense on their altars lay,        125
Without the help of fire it melts away.
The sons of circumcision may receive
The wondrous tale, which I shall ne’er believe,
For I have better learned, in blissful ease
That the good gods enjoy immortal days,        130
Nor anxiously their native skies forsake,
When miracles the laws of nature break.
  From thence our travels to Brundusium bend,
Where our long journey and my paper end.

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