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.
Umbricius’s Farewell to Rome
By Juvenal (c. 55–127)
From the Third Satire

SINCE of honest gains—
By honest arts—no hope at Rome remains;
Since from the remnant of my scanty store
Each morrow still wears off some fragment more:
Thither I go where Dædalus, distressed,        5
Took his tired wings off, and was glad to rest—
In the first freshness of an old man’s prime.
  What should I do at Rome, untaught to lie,
Who neither praise the stupid book, nor buy?
Who cannot, will not, bid the stars declare        10
His father’s funeral to the greedy heir?
The bowels of the toad I ne’er inspect,
To bear th’ adulterer’s gifts none me select;
No public robbers through my aid shall thrive:
Then wherefore with the current longer strive?        15
No man’s confederate, here alone I stand,
Like the maimed owner of a palsied hand….
  From that vile race at length behold me free;
Dear to the great, detestable to me!
Scruples, away! What! is it come to this?        20
Is Rome at last a Greek metropolis?
Yet of the filth derived from foreign mart,
The feculence of Greece but forms a part:
Full into Tiber’s stream ’tis many a day
Since foul Orontes forced its fatal way;        25
Hence Syrian speech and Syrian manners come,
And Syrian music, and the barbarous drum:
Hie to the circus, ye that set a price
On foreign lures, and exoteric vice!
  Into each house the wily strangers crawl,—        30
Obsequious now, soon to be lords of all.
Prompt to discern, and swift to seize his time,
Your Greek stands forth in impudence sublime.
Torrents of words that might Isæus drown
Rush forth at once, and bear you helpless down.        35
Hope not to scan that prodigy of parts,
The deep in science, the adept in arts:
Geometer, logician, man of taste,
Versed in all lore, with all acquirements graced,
Medicine and magic swell the ample list,        40
From augur grave to light funambulist:
Bid an esurient Greek do what you choose,—
The absurd, the impossible,—he’ll not refuse!
  Was it for nothing, that of Aventine
The freshening gales in infancy were mine?        45
For nothing that on Roman soil I grew,
And my first strength from Sabine olives drew?
Go, persevere; and in most prudent strain,
Praise wit in fools and features in the plain;
On lanky, long-necked feebleness confer        50
The grasp of Hercules—ye cannot err!
Go, praise a voice as mellow as the note
Which the shrill cock pours from exulting throat.
Thus too might we,—but who would be deceived?
The Greek alone may lie and be believed.        55
  Who at Præneste ever lived in dread
Lest the frail roof should crumble o’er his head?
At Gabii who? Volsinium’s woodland height,
Or Tibur throned upon its mountain site?
Here props and buttresses the crash suspend,        60
And loaded with incumbent ruin, bend:
For thus the thrifty steward would conceal
The perils which old flaws anon reveal;
And while the loosened pile yet nods on high,
Bids us sleep on, nor fear the danger nigh.        65
Oh! let me dwell where no nocturnal screams
Shall break the golden links of blissful dreams!
Hark! where Ucalegon for water cries,
Casts out his chattels, from the peril flies;
Dense smoke is bursting from the floor below,—        70
Ho! wake thee, man! thy instant perils know.
The basement totters, and thou snor’st the while!
Last to be burnt, all snug beneath the tile
That gives thee shelter from the vernal rain,
Where the fond dove hath pledged her eggs in vain.        75
  Such are our days; let a new theme invite,
And hear the greater perils of the night.
Behold those lofty roofs from which, on high,
The loosened tile oft wounds the passer-by;
Nor seldom, from some lofty casement thrown,        80
The cracked and broken vase comes thundering down;
See with what force it strikes the flint below,
Where the flawed pavement tells the frequent blow!
Oh! thoughtless, careless, indolent, or blind,
Sap not abroad before thy will be signed;        85
Assured, as many dangers thou shalt meet
As there be open windows in the street.
  To these, my friend, more reasons yet remain:
Enough! the sun’s already on the wane;
The cattle wait—th’ impatient driver, see,        90
Points to the road, and only stays for me.
Farewell! forget me not, and when, oppressed
With cares at Rome, thou seek’st Aquinum’s rest,
The much-loved shores of Cuma I’ll resign,
At his own Ceres’ and Diana’s shrine,        95
To greet my friend; and in his satires there
(If they disdain not) I will gladly bear
What part I may: in country shoes I’ll come,
Tread your bleak lands, and share your friendly home.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.