Horace’s Diffugere Nives

Tr. by Caro Morgan, 1926. Included in Horace’s Diffugere Nives: A Collection of Translations.

The snows are fled, and over her bare breast Earth draws
A new green veil.
Within their banks, the streams glide past the leaf-tipped shaws,
As the floods fail;
The half-awakened flowers with the Zephyrs dance,
And seem to say,
Mortals, hope not, for you but once the hours do glance
From life’s bright day.
In Spring’s faint footsteps Summer rushes madly on,
And hears behind
Fruit-laden Autumn, scattering gifts from Winter won,
Cold, dark, and blind.
Though the swift moons restore each season in its turn,
Yet we, when gone,
With age, great wealth and courage cast into the urn,
Remain undone.
If added to this day the morrow’s hours will be,
No man can say;
So spend for thine own soul, from him who follows thee,
What thou best may.
When Death’s grim lips have passed on thee their sentence stern,
From that dread day
Not piety, nor birth, nor eloquence, will earn
An hour’s delay.
E’en her loved voice, who best on earth thy pain could calm,
Will plead in vain,
Nor shall the willing strength of Friendship’s ready arm
Break through Death’s chain.