Epode II


"Happy is he, far from the business world,
           Who like the first men tends,
With his own oxen, to his father's fields,
           And neither borrows, nor lends,
Nor like the soldier rouses to the trumpet,
           Nor trembles when rough seas roar,
Avoiding, too, the forum and the threshold
           Of the proud patron's door.
And so he either weds to the tall poplar
           Mature shoots from the vine,
Or in hidden valleys watches wander all
           His herds of lowing kine,
Or cuts dead branches, grafting new ones on
           For fruitful future years,
Or stores pressed honey up in his clean jars,
           Or gives his sheep the shears;
Or in the fields, when Autumn's raised its head
           With mellow apples crowned,
He thrills to gather in the grafted pears,
           And the purplest grapes around,
To honor you, Priapus, and you, Father
           Sylvanus, his boundaries' guard.
He joys sometimes to lie beneath old oaks,
           Or in thick grass in his yard,
While in their high banks waters glide along
           And in the woods birds cheep,
And fountains with their flowing streams join in
           With sounds to coax sweet sleep.
And when great-thundering Jove brings on the wintry
           Season of rain and snow,
He either drives fierce boars with packs of hounds
           Into a waiting blow
Or stretches out fine nets on a smooth staff
           To trap the thrush, or devises
A noose to capture the panicked hares and foreign
           Cranes—all of them fine prizes.
With all this, who would not forget love's cares,
           Its ever-troubled heart?
But if a good wife keeps the house, and raises
           Sweet children, does her part
As Sabine women do, or like the wife
           Of a tanned Apulian,
And piles the sacred hearth with seasoned wood
           To warm her weary man,
And puts the happy flocks in covered pens,
           And milks them, and if she'll
Draw this year's wines from their sweet casks, and then
           Prepare an unbought meal,
No Lucrine oysters, no, nor rare flatfish,
           Nor wrasse could give me more
Pleasure, should a thundering Eastern tempest
           Drive some up toward our shore—
No African fowl or pheasant could go down
           My gut agreeably
As olives plucked from the most fruitful branch
           Hung on the olive tree,
Or meadow-loving sorrel, or those mallows
           That set sick bodies right,
A lamb slain for Terminalia, or a kid
           Snatched from some lean wolf's bite.
Oh how I joy amid these feasts to watch
           Fat sheep rush home, and oh
To see the oxen drag the inverted plough-share,
           Their weary necks bent low,
The mansion's swarm, the home-born slaves there seated
           Around the Lares' glow."

Having said all this, that loan-shark Alfius,
           Already now almost immersed
In country life, demands his debtors pay up on the Ides,
           Lends more, at interest, on the First.

                                        translated by Ryan Wilson


Epode II


Beatus ille, qui procul negotiis,
   ut prisca gens mortalium,
paterna rura bobus exercet suis,
   solutus omni faenore,
neque excitatur classic miles truci,
   neque horret iratum mare,
forumque vitat et superba civium
   potentiorum limina.
Ergo aut adulta vitium propagine
   altas maritat populos,
aut in reducta valle mugientium
   prospectat errantis greges,
inutilisque falce ramos amputans
   feliciores inserit,
aut pressa puris mella condit amphoris,
   aut tondet infirmas ovis;
vel cum decorum mitibus pomis caput
   Autumnus agris extulit,
ut gaudet insitiva decerpens pira
   certantem et uvam purpurae,
qua muneretur te, Priape, et te, pater
   Silvane, tutor finium!
Libet iacere modo sub antique ilice,
   modo in tenaci gramine:
labuntur altis interim ripis aquae,
   queruntur in silvis aves,
fontesque lymphis obstrepunt manantibus,
   somnos quod invitet levis.
At cum tonantis annus hibernus Iovis
   imbris nivesque comparat,
aut trudit acris hinc et hinc multa cane
   apros in obstantis plagas,
aut amite levi rara tendit retia,
   turdis edacibus dolos,
pavidumque leporem et advenam laqueo gruem
   iucunda captat praemia.
Quis non malarum, quas amor curas habet,
   haec inter obliviscitur?
Quodsi pudica mulier in partem iuvet
   domum atque dulcis liberos,
Sabina qualis aut perusta solibus
   pernicis uxor Apuli,
sacrum vetustis exstruat lignis focum
   lassi sub adventum viri,
claudensque textis cratibus laetum pecus
   distenta siccet ubera,
et horna dulci vina promens dolio
   dapes inemptas apparet;
non me Lucrina iuverint conchylia
   magisve rhombus aut scari,
si quos Eois intonata fluctibus
   hiems ad hoc vertat mare,
non Afra avis descendat in ventrem meum,
   non attagen Ionicus
iucundior, quam lecta de pinguissimis
   oliva ramis arborum
aut herba lapathi prata amantis et gravi
   malvae salubres corpori,
vel agna festis caesa Terminalibus
   vel haedus ereptus lupo.
Has inter epulas ut iuvat pastas ovis
   videre properantis domum,
videre fessos vomerem inversum boves
   collo trahentis languido,
positosque vernas, ditis examen domus,
   circum renidentis Lares!
Haec ubi locutus faenerator Alfius,
   iam iam futurus rusticus,
omnem redegit Idibus pecuniam
   quaerit Kalendis ponere.