Horace’s Otium Divos

(Translated by Alan McNicoll, 1979)

For rest he prays the gods, who unaware
Sails the Aegean, and a black cloud hides
The moon. No longer do the stars shine fair
While the swift storm he rides.

For rest the Thracians furious in war,
The Medes adorned with teeming quivers sigh—
Of greater price than gems or purple are—
Dearer than gold can buy.

It is not treasure, nor the consul’s pride
That clears away the mind’s unhappy strife,
Nor lays the cares that haunt on every side
The fretted vaults of life.

He lives on little well, upon whose board
His father’s silver gleams: nor do the throes
Of passion, nor the fear of things untoward
Deny him his repose.

Why in a little lifetime do we aim
At many marks; live under many skies?
What exile, from whatever land he came
From himself also flies?

Care sails aboard the vessel brazen-prowed,
And never lags behind a troop of horse.
Fleet as a stag, and fleeter than a cloud
Borne on the east wind’s course.

A mind that views with joy its present state
Will hesitate to ask what may befall.
Soften with smiles the bitterness of fate—
Nothing is blest in all.

(Not included in Horace’s Otium Divos: A Collection of Translations)