"Keep a Tranquil Mind"

(Horace Odes II.3)

translated by Peter Saint-Andre

Remember in difficult times to
Keep a tranquil mind, and in good times
To keep from becoming overjoyed,
My Dellius who is yet to die,

Whether you live always in sadness
Or on festal days in far-off field
Reclining you take delight in a
Famed vintage of Falernian wine.

Why do the tall pine and white poplar
Love to unite their foliage in
Inviting shade? Why does the rushing
Water press on through its winding banks?

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

You'll leave your boughten lands and your house
In the country, washed by the Tiber —
You'll leave them, and some heir will acquire
The wealth you piled high. And whether

You're rich and of ancient lineage
Or you're poor and sleep beneath the stars,
In the end it makes no difference: for
Pitiless Orcus will have your soul.

We are all gathered to the same place:
The lot of all is turned in the urn
Of Fate, who will come forth and place us
In the skiff, for eternal exile.


Peter Saint-Andre > Writings > Ancient Fire