You’ll credit it more if I say that when I was a lad
Ofellus, as I know well, spent no more widely, then,
When his wealth was intact, as now it’s reduced.
You can see him there with his sons and herd, a solid
Tenant on his lost farm. ‘I was never one,’ he says,
‘To eat rashly on working days, no more than greens,
A shank of smoked ham, and if friends came to visit
I’d not seen for ages, or if I welcomed a neighbour
On a wet day when I couldn’t work, we dined well,
Not on fish from town, but a kid or a pullet: then
Raisins and nuts and split figs graced our dessert.
After it drinking matches with a forfeit for losing,
And with a prayer to Ceres: ‘May she raise the stalks high’,
She smoothed care from our furrowed brows with wine.
Let Fortune’s winds blow, let her stir a fresh tumult:
How can she lessen this? How much worse off have I
Or you been, my lads, since this new landlord arrived?
Nature makes no-one, not he nor I, the true owner
Of the land: he replaced us, and he’ll be replaced
Through incompetence, not grasping legal subtlety,
Or, failing all that, by the heir that outlives him.
Today it’s Umbrenus’ farm, it was Ofellus’ lately,
No one will truly own it, but it will be worked
Now by me, now another. So live bravely, as men
With brave hearts do, and confront the vagaries of fate.