John Quincy Adams

Horace’s Integer Vitae, Translated by John Quincy Adams, 1841

The man in righteousness array’d,
A pure and blameless liver,
Needs not the keen Toledo blade,
Nor venom-freighted quiver.
What though he wind his toilsome way
O’er regions wild and weary —
Through Zara’s burning desert stray;
Or Asia’s jungles dreary:

What though he plough the billowy deep
By lunar light, or solar,
Meet the resistless Simoon’s sweep,
Or iceberg circumpolar.
In bog or quagmire deep and dank,
His foot shall never settle;
He mounts the summit of Mont Blanc,
Or Popocatapetl.

On Chimborazo’s breathless height,
He treads o’er burning lava;
Or snuff the Bohan Upas blight,
The deathful plant of Java.
Through every peril he shall pass,
By Virtue’s shield protected;
And still by Truth’s unerring glass
His path shall be directed.

Else wherefore was it, Thursday last,
While strolling down the valley
Defenceless, musing as I pass’d
A canzonet to Sally;
A wolf, with mouth protruding snout,
Forth from the thicket bounded —
I clapped my hands and raised a shout —
He heard — and fled — confounded.

Tangier nor Tunis never bred
An animal more crabbed;
Nor Fez, dry nurse of lions, fed
A monster half so rabid.
Nor Ararat so fierce a beast
Has seen, since days of Noah;
Nor strong, more eager for a feast,
The fell constrictor boa.

Oh! place me where the solar beam
Has scorch’d all verdure vernal;
Or on the polar verge extreme,
Block’d up with ice eternal —
Still shall my voice’s tender lays
Of love remain unbroken;
And still my charming Sally praise,
Sweet smiling and sweet spoken.