A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)

"2.3.10."

“Building doll’s houses, harnessing mice to a cart,
Playing odds and evens, riding a hobby-horse:
If they delighted an adult, he’d be thought mad.
Now, if Reason can show that love is even more
Puerile than these, that it matters not whether you play
With sand like a three year old, or weep with frustration
For love of a mistress: will you, I question, do as
Polemon did when enlightened, and shed your ill tokens
As they say he did: his garters, elbow-puffs, and cravat,
Quietly removing the flowers from his neck, arrested
By the voice of his temperate master Xenocrates?
When you offer apples to a sulky child he refuses:
‘Take them, love!’ He won’t: not offered he wants them.
Is the lover who’s been shut out different, who debates
Whether to shun that house he’d visit without being
Asked: as he clings to its hated door? ‘Should I accede,
Now she asks me herself, or consider ending the pain?
She shut me out: asks me back: shall I return? No,
Not if she begs me.’ Hear the servant, wiser by far:
‘O master, things without wisdom or measure can’t be
Ruled by rhyme or reason. These are love’s evils, war
Then peace again: as changeable almost as the weather,
By blind chance fluctuating, and if anyone laboured
To make them predictable he’d no more explain them
Than if he tried going crazy by reason and rhyme.’
What? When you flick at the pips of Picenian apples,
And think love returned if you strike the arched ceiling,
You’re sane? What? When you babble from aged lips,
You’re wiser than children building doll’s houses? Add
Blood to folly, stir the flame with a sword. A day since,
When Marius stabbed his Hellas then leapt to his death,
He was crazy: or would you acquit him of being
Of unsound mind, and so accuse him of crime,
Reducing things as ever to customary terms?”

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #


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