"The Snows Have Fled"

(Horace, Odes IV.7)

translated by Peter Saint-Andre

The snows have fled, already grass returns
To the fields and leaves return to the trees.
Earth turns her changes; rivers are slowing.
Grace with her Nymphs and twin sisters ventures
Forth naked to lead her bands of dancers.
The year and the hour that steal away
The nourishing day give us their warning:
"Don't hold out hope for immortality."
The Zephyr lessens the cold, the Summer
Tramples the Spring but then is overturned
When fruit-bearing Fall has poured forth its crops;
Soon enough dead winter returns again.
Swift moons will heal the heavenly damage —
But when finally we have gone down where
Good Aeneas, rich Tullus, and Arcus
Have gone — we will become mere dust and shade.
Who knows if the gods will add to our sum
Tomorrow? The only thing that escapes
Your heir is what you've added to your soul.
When you have died and Minos has given
His judgment, nothing, Torquatus — not birth
Nor eloquence nor worth — restores your life.
Diana can't release Hippolytus
From darkness; Theseus lacks the power
To burst the chains of dear Perithoƶs.


Peter Saint-Andre > Writings > Ancient Fire