New Poems

Page 26


HERE lies Erotion, whom at six years old Fate pilfered. Stranger (when I too am cold, Who shall succeed me in my rural field), To this small spirit annual honours yield! Bright be thy hearth, hale be thy babes, I crave And this, in thy green farm, the only grave.


NOW Antoninus, in a smiling age, Counts of his life the fifteenth finished stage. The rounded days and the safe years he sees, Nor fears death's water mounting round his knees. To him remembering not one day is sad, Not one but that its memory makes him glad. So good men lengthen life; and to recall The past is to have twice enjoyed it all.


NOW in the sky And on the hearth of Now in a drawer the direful cane, That sceptre of the . . . reign, And the long hawser, that on the back Of Marsyas fell with many a whack, Twice hardened out of Scythian hides, Now sleep till the October ides.

In summer if the boys be well.


O NEPOS, twice my neigh(b)our (since at home We're door by door, by Flora's temple dome; And in the country, still conjoined by fate, Behold our villas standing gate by gate), Thou hast a daughter, dearer far than life - Thy image and the image of thy wife. Thy image and thy wife's, and be it so!

But why for her, { neglect the flowing } can { O Nepos, leave the }

And lose the prime of thy Falernian? Hoard casks of money, if to hoard be thine; But let thy daughter drink a younger wine! Let her go rich and wise, in silk and fur;

Lay down a { bin that shall } grow old with her; { vintage to }

But thou, meantime, the while the batch is sound, With pleased companions pass the bowl around; Nor let the childless only taste delights, For Fathers also may enjoy their nights.


YOU, Charidemus, who my cradle swung, And watched me all the days that I was young; You, at whose step the laziest slaves awake, And both the bailiff and the butler quake; The barber's suds now blacken with my beard, And my rough kisses make the maids afeared; But with reproach your awful eyebrows twitch, And for the cane, I see, your fingers itch. If something daintily attired I go, Straight you exclaim: "Your father did not so." And fuming, count the bottles on the board As though my cellar were your private hoard. Enough, at last: I have done all I can, And your own mistress hails me for a man.


YOU fear, Ligurra - above all, you long - That I should smite you with a stinging song. This dreadful honour you both fear and hope - Both all in vain: you fall below my scope. The Lybian lion tears the roaring bull, He does not harm the midge along the pool.

Lo! if so close this stands in your regard, From some blind tap fish forth a drunken barn, Who shall with charcoal, on the privy wall, Immortalise your name for once and all.


BEYOND the gates thou gav'st a field to till; I have a larger on my window-sill. A farm, d'ye say? Is this a farm to you, Where for all woods I spay one tuft of rue, And that so rusty, and so small a thing, One shrill cicada hides it with a wing; Where one cucumber covers all the plain; And where one serpent rings himself in vain To enter wholly; and a single snail Eats all and exit fasting to the pool? Here shall my gardener be the dusty mole. My only ploughman the . . . mole. Here shall I wait in vain till figs be set, And till the spring disclose the violet. Through all my wilds a tameless mouse careers, And in that narrow boundary appears, Huge as the stalking lion of Algiers, Huge as the fabled boar of Calydon. And all my hay is at one swoop impresst By one low-flying swallow for her nest, Strip god Priapus of each attribute Here finds he scarce a pedestal to foot. The gathered harvest scarcely brims a spoon; And all my vintage drips in a cocoon. Generous are you, but I more generous still: Take back your farm and stand me half a gill!

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book