New Poems

Page 27


O CHIEF director of the growing race, Of Rome the glory and of Rome the grace, Me, O Quintilian, may you not forgive Before from labour I make haste to live? Some burn to gather wealth, lay hands on rule, Or with white statues fill the atrium full. The talking hearth, the rafters sweet with smoke, Live fountains and rough grass, my line invoke: A sturdy slave, not too learned wife, Nights filled with slumber, and a quiet life.


MY Martial owns a garden, famed to please, Beyond the glades of the Hesperides; Along Janiculum lies the chosen block Where the cool grottos trench the hanging rock. The moderate summit, something plain and bare, Tastes overhead of a serener air; And while the clouds besiege the vales below, Keeps the clear heaven and doth with sunshine glow. To the June stars that circle in the skies The dainty roofs of that tall villa rise. Hence do the seven imperial hills appear; And you may view the whole of Rome from here; Beyond, the Alban and the Tuscan hills; And the cool groves and the cool falling rills, Rubre Fidenae, and with virgin blood Anointed once Perenna's orchard wood. Thence the Flaminian, the Salarian way, Stretch far broad below the dome of day; And lo! the traveller toiling towards his home; And all unheard, the chariot speeds to Rome! For here no whisper of the wheels; and tho' The Mulvian Bridge, above the Tiber's flow, Hangs all in sight, and down the sacred stream The sliding barges vanish like a dream, The seaman's shrilling pipe not enters here, Nor the rude cries of porters on the pier. And if so rare the house, how rarer far The welcome and the weal that therein are! So free the access, the doors so widely thrown, You half imagine all to be your own.


GO(D) knows, my Martial, if we two could be To enjoy our days set wholly free; To the true life together bend our mind, And take a furlough from the falser kind. No rich saloon, nor palace of the great, Nor suit at law should trouble our estate; On no vainglorious statues should we look, But of a walk, a talk, a little book, Baths, wells and meads, and the veranda shade, Let all our travels and our toils be made. Now neither lives unto himself, alas! And the good suns we see, that flash and pass And perish; and the bell that knells them cries: "Another gone: O when will ye arise?"


WOULDST thou be free? I think it not, indeed; But if thou wouldst, attend this simple rede: When quite contented }thou canst dine at home Thou shall be free when } And drink a small wine of the march of Rome; When thou canst see unmoved thy neighbour's plate, And wear my threadbare toga in the gate; When thou hast learned to love a small abode, And not to choose a mistress A LA MODE: When thus contained and bridled thou shalt be, Then, Maximus, then first shalt thou be free.


CALL me not rebel, though { here at every word {in what I sing If I no longer hail thee { King and Lord { Lord and King I have redeemed myself with all I had, And now possess my fortunes poor but glad. With all I had I have redeemed myself, And escaped at once from slavery and pelf. The unruly wishes must a ruler take, Our high desires do our low fortunes make: Those only who desire palatial things Do bear the fetters and the frowns of Kings; Set free thy slave; thou settest free thyself.


LOOK round: You see a little supper room; But from my window, lo! great Caesar's tomb! And the great dead themselves, with jovial breath Bid you be merry and remember death.


THIS girl was sweeter than the song of swans, And daintier than the lamb upon the lawns Or Curine oyster. She, the flower of girls, Outshone the light of Erythraean pearls; The teeth of India that with polish glow, The untouched lilies or the morning snow. Her tresses did gold-dust outshine And fair hair of women of the Rhine. Compared to her the peacock seemed not fair, The squirrel lively, or the phoenix rare; Her on whose pyre the smoke still hovering waits; Her whom the greedy and unequal fates On the sixth dawning of her natal day, My child-love and my playmate - snatcht away.


FOR these are sacred fishes all Who know that lord that is the lord of all; Come to the brim and nose the friendly hand That sways and can beshadow all the land. Nor only so, but have their names, and come When they are summoned by the Lord of Rome. Here once his line an impious Lybian threw; And as with tremulous reed his prey he drew, Straight, the light failed him. He groped, nor found the prey that he had ta'en. Now as a warning to the fisher clan Beside the lake he sits, a beggarman. Thou, then, while still thine innocence is pure, Flee swiftly, nor presume to set thy lure; Respect these fishes, for their friends are great; And in the waters empty all thy bait.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

All Pages of This Book