"Keep a Tranquil Mind"

(Horace Odes II.3)

translated by Peter Saint-Andre

Remember when times are difficult to
Keep a tranquil mind, when times are good to
Keep yourself from becoming overjoyed,
Dellius who is yet to face your death,

Whether you will live always in sadness
Or on festal days in a far-off field
Reclining there you will find delight in
A famed vintage of Falernian wine.

Why do the tall pine and the white poplar
So love to join their foliage to make
Inviting shade? And why does the rushing
Water press through the river's winding banks?

Bring along wines, perfumes, and the too-brief
Flower that blooms upon the lovely rose
While your good fortune and our youth allow,
And the dark-spun threads of the three Sisters.

You will leave your boughten lands and country
House, which is washed by the river Tiber —
You will leave them, and some heir will acquire
All the wealth you have piled up so high.

Whether you're rich from an old family
Or you are poor and sleep beneath the stars,
It makes no difference at the very end:
For pitiless Orcus will have your soul.

Each of us is gathered to the same place:
Every lot is turned in the urn of Fate,
The god who will come forth and place each one
In the skiff of Styx, never to return.


Peter Saint-Andre > Writings > Ancient Fire