Horace’s Carpe Diem

Translated by Roselle Mercier Montgomery, 1929

Seek not, Leuconoe, to know
What length of life Jove will bestow
On you or me —
Such things, hid from our mortal eyes,
No Babylonian sorceries
Can make you see!

Oh, better far bravely to bear
What heaven sends! No tear, no prayer
Can soften Jove!
This winter that now drives the sea
Upon the rocks perhaps may be
Our last, my love!

Forbear to guess the god’s design.
Instead, be wise and strain the wine —
Age comes apace.
Even as we talk, he steals on us
As though he might be envious
Of this day’s grace!

Then let us, love, since life’s brief span
Denies us hope, pluck while we can
This one bright hour,
Nor trust to future joys too much —
Our eager hands may never touch
Tomorrow’s flower!