Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Last Three Stanzas of John Dryden's Imitation of the Twenty-Ninth Ode from the Third Book of the Odes of Horace

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
   He, who can call today his own;
   He who, secure within, can say:
"Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
     Be fair, or foul, or rain, or shine,
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
  Not Heav'n itself upon the past has pow'r;
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour"

  Fortune, that with malicious joy
    Does man her slave oppress,
  Proud of her office to destroy,
    Is seldom pleased to bless:
  Still various, and unconstant still,
But with an inclination to be ill,
  Promotes, degrades, delights in strife,
  And makes a lottery of life.
  I can enjoy her while she's kind;
  But when she dances in the wind,
  And shakes her wings, and will not stay,
  I puff the prostitute away:
The little or the much she gave me is quietly resigned:
    Content with poverty, my soul I arm;
   And virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm.

      What is't to me,
Who never sail in her unfaithful sea,
  If storms arise, and clouds grow black;
  If the mast split, and threaten wreck?
Then let the greedy merchant fear
    For his ill-gotten gain;
  and pray to gods that will not hear,
While the debating winds and willows bear
    His wealth into the main.
  For me, secure from Fortune's blows,
  (Secure of what I cannot lose,)
  In my small pinnance I can sail,
  Contemning all the blust'ring roar;
  And running with a merry gale,
With friendly stars my safety seek,
Within some little winding creek:
  And see the storm ashore.

And for those who may prefer the original, from the first Augustan age:

        ...ille potens sui
laetusque deget, cui licet in diem
    dixisse "vixi:  cras vel atra
        nube polum Pater occupato

vel sole puro; non tamen irritum,
quodcumque retro est, efficiet neque
    diffenget infactumque reddet,
        quod fugiens semel hora vexit."

Fortuna saevo laeta negotio et
ludum insolentem ludere pertinax
    transmutat incertos honores,
        nunc mihi, nunc alii benigna.

laudo manentem; si celeris quatit
penna, resigno quae dedit et mea
    virtute me involvo probamque
        pauperiem sine dote quaero.

non est meum, si mugiat Africis
malus procellis, ad miseras preces
    decurrere et votis pacisci
        ne Cypriae Tyriaeque merces

addant avaro divitias mari.
tunc me biremis praesidio scaphae
    tutum per Aegaeos tumultus
        aura ferret geminusque Pollux.

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