Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

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

IT chanced that I, the other day,
Was sauntering up the Sacred Way,
And musing, as my habit is,
Some trivial random fantasies,
That for the time absorbed me quite,—        5
When there comes running up a wight,
Whom only by his name I knew:
“Ha, my dear fellow, how d’ye do?”
Grasping my hand, he shouted. “Why,
As times go, pretty well,” said I:        10
“And you, I trust, can say the same.”
But after me as still he came,
“Sir, is there anything,” I cried,
“You want of me?” “Oh,” he replied,
“I’m just the man you ought to know:        15
A scholar, author!”—“Is it so?
For this I’ll like you all the more!”
Then, writhing to evade the bore,
I quicken now my pace, now stop,
And in my servant’s ear let drop        20
Some words, and all the while I feel
Bathed in cold sweat from head to heel.
  “Oh for a touch,” I moaned in pain,
“Bolanus, of thy slap-dash vein,
To put this incubus to rout!”        25
As he went chattering on about
Whatever he descries or meets,
The crowds, the beauty of the streets,
The city’s growth, its splendor, size,
“You’re dying to be off,” he cries—        30
For all the while I’d been struck dumb:
“I’ve noticed it some time. But come,
Let’s clearly understand each other:
It’s no use making all this pother.
My mind’s made up to stick by you;        35
So where you go, there I go too.”
  “Don’t put yourself,” I answered, “pray,
So very far out of your way.
I’m on the road to see a friend,
Whom you don’t know, that’s near his end,        40
Away beyond the Tiber far,
Close by where Cæsar’s gardens are.”
  “I’ve nothing in the world to do,
And what’s a paltry mile or two?
I like it, so I’ll follow you!”        45
Now we were close on Vesta’s fane;
’Twas hard on ten, and he, my bane,
Was bound to answer to his bail,
Or lose his cause if he should fail.
  “Do, if you love me, step aside        50
One moment with me here,” he cried.
  “Upon my life, indeed I can’t:
Of law I’m wholly ignorant,
And you know where I’m hurrying to.”
  “I’m fairly puzzled what to do:        55
Give you up, or my cause.”—“Oh, me,
Me, by all means!”—“I won’t,” quoth he,
And stalks on, holding by me tight.
As with your conqueror to fight
Is hard, I follow. “How,” anon        60
He rambles off—“How get you on,
You and Mæcenas? To so few
He keeps himself. So clever, too!
No man more dexterous to seize
And use his opportunities.        65
Just introduce me, and you’ll see
We’ll pull together famously;
And hang me then, if with my backing
You don’t send all your rivals packing!”
  “Things in that quarter, sir, proceed        70
In very different style indeed.
No house more free from all that’s base,
In none cabals more out of place.
It hurts me not if there I spy
Men richer, better read than I.        75
Each has his place!”—“Amazing tact!
Scarce credible!”—“But ’tis the fact.”—
“You quicken my desire to get
An introduction to his set.”…
                        We ran
At the next turn against the man        80
Who had the lawsuit with my bore.
“Ha, knave,” he cried with loud uproar,
“Where are you off to? Will you here
Stand witness?” I present my ear.
To court he hustles him along;        85
High words are bandied, high and strong;
A mob collects, the fray to see:
So did Apollo rescue me.

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