Muses! that, our of your Pierian state,
All worth in sacred numbers celebrate,
Use here your faculties so much renown’d,
To sing your Sire; and him in hymns resound
By whom all humans, that to death are bound,
Are bound together; both the great in fame,
And men whose poor dates fit them with no name,
Noble, and base; great Jove’s will orders all;
For he with ease extols, with ease lets fall;
Eas’ly diminisheth the most in grace,
And lifts the most obscure to loftiest place;
Eas’ly sets straight the quite shrunk up together,
And makes the most elated beauty wither;
And this is Jove, that breaks his voice so high
In horrid sounds, and dwells above the sky.
Hear then, O Jove, that dost both see and hear,
And, for thy justice’ sake, be orderer
To these just precepts, that in prophecy
I use, to teach my brother piety.
Not one Contention on the earth there reigns
To raise men’s fortunes and peculiar gains,
But two. The one the knowing man approves;
The other hate should force from human loves,
Since it derives our reasonable kind,
In two parts parting man’s united mind;
And is so harmful, for pernicious War
It feeds, and bites at every Civil Jar;
Which no man loves, but strong Necessity
Doth this Contention, as his plague, imply
By Heaven’s hid counsels. Th’other Strife black Night
Begat before; which Jove, that in the light
Of all the stars dwells, and, through thron’d aloft,
Of each man weighs yet both the work and thought,
Put in the roots of earth; from whose womb grow
Men’s needful means to pay the debt they owe
To life and living. And this Strife is far
More fit for men, and much the sprightlier;
For he in whose hands lives no love of art,
Nor virtuous industry, yet plucks up heart,
And falls to work for living. Any one,
Never so stupid and so base a drone,
Seeing a rich man haste to sow, and plant,
And guide his house well, feels with shame his want,
And labours like him. And this Strife is good.
When Strife for riches warms and fires the blood,
The neighbour doth the neighbour emulate,
The potter doth the potter’s profit hate,
The smith the smith with spleen inveterate,
Beggar maligns the beggar for good done,
And the musician the musician.
This Strife, O Perses, see remember’d still;
But fly Contention that insults on th’ ill
Of other men, and from thy work doth draw
To be a well-seen man in works of law.
Nor to those courts afford affected ear;
For he that hath not, for the entire year,
Enough laid up beforehand, little need
Hath to take care those factious courts to feed
With what earth bears, and Ceres doth bestow.
With which when thou are satiate, nor dost know
What do do with it, then to these wars go
For others’ goods; but see no more spent so
Of thine hereafter. Let ourselves decide,
With dooms direct, all differences implied
In our affairs; and, what is ratified
By Jove’s will to be ours, account our own;
For that thrives ever best. Our discord, grown
For what did from our father’s bounty fall,
We ended lately, and shared freely all;
When thou much more than thine hadst ravish’d home,
With which thou mad’st proud, and didst overcome,
With partial affection to thy cause,
Those gift-devouring kings that sway our laws,
Who would have still retain’d us in their powers,
And given by their dooms what was freely ours.
O fools, that all things into judgment call,
Yet know not how much half is more than all!
Nor how the mean life is the firmest still,
Nor of the mallow and the daffodill
How great a good the little mals contain.
But God hath hid from men the healthful mean;
For otherwise a man might heap, and play,
Enough to serve the whole year in a day,
And straight his draught-tree hang up in the smoke,
Nor more his labouring mules nor oxen yoke.
But Jove man’s knowledge of his best bereav’d,
Conceiving anger, since he was deceiv’d
By that same wisdom-wresting Japhet’s son;
For which all ill all earth did overrun.
For Jove close keeping in a hollow cave
His holy fire, to serve the use of man,
Prometheus stole it, by his human sleight,
From him that hath all of heaven’s wit the height;
For which He angry, thus to him began
The Cloud-assembler: “Thou most crafty man,
That joy’st to steal my fire, deceiving me,
Shalt feel that joy the greater grief to thee,
And therein plague thy universal race;
To whom I’ll give a pleasing ill, in place
Of that good fire, and all shall be so vain
To place their pleasure in embracing pain.”
Thus spake and laugh’d of Gods and Men the Sire,
And straight enjoin’d the famous God of Fire
To mingle, instantly, with water earth;
The voice and vigour of a human birth
Imposing in it, and so fair a face
As match’d th’Immortal Goddesses in grace,
Her form presenting a most lovely maid.
Then on Minerva his command he laid
To make her work, and wield the witty loom.
And, for her beauty, such as might become
The golden Venus, he commanded her
Upon her brows and countenance to confer
Her own bewitchings; stuffing all her breast
With wild desires incapable of rest,
And cares that feed to all satiety
All human lineaments. The crafty Spy
And Messenger of Godheads, Mercury,
He charg’d t’inform her with a dogged mind,
And thievish manners. All as he design’d
Was put in act. A creature straight had frame
Like to a virgin, mild and full of shame;
Which Jove’s suggestion made the Both-foot-lame
Form so deceitfully, and all of earth
To forge the living matter of her birth.
Grey-eyed Minerva put her girdle on,
And show’d how loose parts, well composed, shone.
The deified Graces, and the Dame that sets
Sweet words in chief form, golden carquenets
Embrac’d her neck withal. The fair-hair’d Hours
Her gracious temples crown’d with fresh spring-flowers.
But of all these, employ’d in several place,
Pallas gave order the impulsive grace.
Her bosom Hermes, the great God of spies,
With subtle fashions fill’d, fair words, and lies;
Jove prompting still. But all the voice she us’d
The vocal herald of the Gods infus’d,
And call’d her name Pandora, since on her
The Gods did all their several gifts confer;
Who made her such, in every moving strain,
To be the bane of curious-minded men.
Her harmful and inevitable frame
At all parts perfect, Jove dismiss’d the Dame
To Epimetheus, in his herald’s guide,
With all the God’s plagues in a box beside.
Nor Epimetheus kept one word in store
Of what Prometheus had advised before,
Which was: That Jove should fasten on his hand
No gift at all, but he his while withstand,
And back return it, lest with instant ill
To mortal men he all the world did fill.
But he first took the gift, and after griev’d.
For first the families of mortals liv’d
Without and free from ill; harsh labour then,
Nor sickness, hasting timeless age on men,
Their hard and wretched tasks impos’d on them
For many years; but now a violent stream
Of all afflictions in an instant came,
And quench’d life’s light that shin’d before in flame.
For when the woman the unwieldy lid
Had once discover’d, all the miseries hid
In that curs’d cabinet dispers’d and flew
About the world; joys pined, and sorrows grew.
Hope only rested in the box’s brim,
And took not wing from thence. Jove prompted him
That ow’d the cabinet to clap it close
Before she parted; but unnumber’d woes
Besides encount’red men in all their ways;
Full were all shores of them, and full all seas.
Diseases, day and night, with natural wings
And silent entries stole on men their stings;
The great in counsels, Jove, their voices reft,
That not the truest might avoid their theft,
Nor any ‘scape the ill, in any kind,
Resolv’d at first in his almighty mind.
And, wert thou willing, I would add to this
A second cause of men’s calamities,
Sing all before, and since, nor will be long,
But short, and knowing; and t’observe my song,
Be thy conceit and mind’s retention strong.
When first both Gods and Men had one time’s birth,
The Gods of diverse-languag’d men on Earth
A Golden world produc’d, that did sustain
Old Saturn’s rule when he in heaven did reign;
And then liv’d men, like Gods, in pleasure here,
Indued with minds secure; from toils, griefs, clear;
Nor noisome age made any crooked; there
Their feet went ever naked as their hands;
Their cates were blessed, serving their commands,
With ceaseless plenties; all days sacred made
To feasts, that surfeits never could invade.
Thus liv’d they long, and died as seis’d with sleep;
All good things serv’d them; fruits did ever keep
Their free fields crown’d, that all abundance bore;
All which equal shared, and none wish’d more.
And, when the Earth had hid them, Jove’s will was,
The good should into heavenly natures pass;
Yet still held state on earth, and guardians were
Of all best mortals still surviving there,
Observ’d works just and unjust, clad in air,
And, gliding undiscover’d everywhere,
Gave riches where they pleased; and so were reft
Nothing of all the royal rule they left.
The Second Age, that next succeeded this,
Was far the worse; which heaven-hous’d Deities
Of Silver-fashion’d; not like that of Gold
In disposition, nor so wisely soul’d.
For children then liv’d in their mothers’ cares
(All that time growing still) a hundred years;
And were such great fools at that age, that they
Could not themselves dispose a family.
And when they youths grew, having reached the date
That rear’d their forces up to man’s estate,
They liv’d small space, and spent it all in pain,
Caused by their follies; not of power t’asbtain
From doing one another injury.
Nor would they worship any Deity,
Nor on the holy altars of the Blest
Any appropriate sacrifice addrest,
As fits the fashion of all human birth.
For which Jove, angry, hid them straight in earth,
Since to the blessed Deities of heaven
They gave not those respects they should have given.
But when the Earth had hid these like the rest,
They then were call’d the subterrestrial blest,
And in bliss second, having honours then
Fit for the infernal spirits of powerful men,
Then form’d our Father Jove a Third Descent,
Whose Age was Brazen, clearly different
From that age of Silver. All the mortals there
Of wild ash fashion’d, stubborn and austere;
Whose minds the harmful facts of Mars affected,
And petulant injury. All meats rejected
Of natural fruits and herbs. And these were they
That first began that table cruelty
Of slaught’ring beasts; and therefore grew they fierce,
And not to be endur’d in their commerce.
Their ruthless minds in adamant were cut,
Their strengths were dismal, and their shoulders put
Inaccessible hands out over all;
Their brawny limbs arm’d with a brazen wall.
Ther houses all were brazen, all of brass
Their working instruments, for black iron was
As yet unknown. And these (ther own lives ending,
The vast and cold-sad house of hell descending)
No grace had in their ends; but though they were
Never so powerful, and enforcing fear,
Black death reduc’d their greatness in their spight
T’ a little room, and stopp’d their cheerful light.
When these left life, a Fourth Kind Jove gave birth
Upon the many-a-creature-nourishing earth;
More just, and better than this race before-
Divine heroes, that the surnames bore
Of semigods, yet these impetuous fight
And bloody war bereft of life and light.
Some, in Cadmaean earth, contentious
To prise the infinite wealth of Oedipus,
Before seven-ported Thebes; some shipp’d upon
The ruthless waves, and led to Ilion,
For fair-hair’d Helen’s love, where, likewise, they
In bounds of death confin’d the beams of day.
O that I might not live now, to partake
The Age that must the Fifth succession make.
But either die before, or else were born
When all that Age is into ashes worn!
For that which next springs, in supply of this,
Will all of Iron produce his families
Whose bloods shall be so banefully corrupt
They shall not let them sleep, but interrupt
With toils and miseries all their rests and fares,
The Gods such grave and soul-dissecting cares
Shall steep their bosoms in. And yet some good
Will God mix with their bad; for when the blood
Faints in their nourishment, and leaves their hair
A little gray, Jove’s hand will stop the air
‘Twixt them and life, and take them straight away.
‘Twixt men and women shall be such foul play
In their begetting pleasures, and their race
Spring from such false seed, that the son’s stol’n face
Shall nought be like the sire’s, the sire no more
Seen in his issue. No friend, as before,
Shall like his friend be; nor no brother rest
Kind like his brother; no guest like a guest
Of former times; no child use like a child
His aged parents, but with manners wild
Revile and shame them; their impiety
Shall never fear that God’s all-seeing eye
Is fixt upon them, but shall quite despise
Repayment of their education’s price,
Bear their law in their hands, and when they get
Their father’s free-given goods, account them debt.
City shall city ransack; not a grace
To any pious man shall show her face,
Nor to a just or good man. All, much more,
Shall grace a beastly and injurious bore.
No right shall seize on any hand of theirs,
Nor any shame make blush their black affairs.
The worse shall worse the better with bad words.
And swear him out of all his right affords.
Ill-lung’d, ill-liver’d, ill-complexion’d Spight
Shall consort all the miserable plight
Of men then living. Justice then, and Shame,
Clad in pure white (as if they never came
In touch of those societies) shall fly
Up to the Gods’ immortal family,
From broad-way’d earth; and leave grave griefs to men,
That (desp’rate of amends) must bear all then.
But now to kings a fable I’ll obtrude,
Though clear they savor all it can include:
The hawk once having trust up in his seres
The sweet-tun’d nightingale, and to the spheres
His prey transferring, with his talons she
Pinch’d too extremely, and incessantly
Crying for anguish, this imperious speech
He gave the poor bird : “Why complain’st thou wretch?
One holds thee now that is thy mightier far;
Go as he guides, though ne’er so singular
Thou art a singer; it lies now in me
To make thee sup me, or to set thee free.
Fool that thou art, whoever will contend
With one whose faculties his own transcend
Both fails of conquest, and is likewise sure
Besides his wrong he shall bad words endure.”
Thus spake the swift and broad-wing’d bird of prey.
But hear thou justice, and hate injury.
Wrong touches near a miserable man;
For (though most patient) yet he hardly can
Forbear just words, and feel injurious deeds.
Unjust loads vex; he hardly bears that bleeds.
And yet hath Wrong to Right a better way,
For in the end will Justice win the day.
Till which who bears sees then amends arise;
The fool first suffers and is after wise.
But crooked Justice jointly hooks with it
Injurious Perjury; and that unfit
Outrage brib’d judges use, that makes them draw
The way their gifts go, ever cuts out law
By crooked measures. Equal Justice then,
All clad in air, th’ ill minds of bribed men
Comes after mourning, mourns the city’s ill,
Which, where she is expelled, she brings in still.
But those that with impartial dooms extend
As well to strangers as their household friend
The law’s pure truth, and will in no point stray
From forth the straight tract of the equal way,
With such the city all things noble nourish,
With such the people in their profits flourish;
Sweet Peace along the land goes, nor to them
All-seeing Jove will destinate th’ extreme
Of baneful war. No hunger ever comes,
No ill, where judges use impartial dooms.
But goods well got maintain still neighbour feasts;
The fields flow there with lawful interests;
On hills the high oak acorns bears; in dales
Th’ industrious bee her honey sweet exhales,
And full-fell’d sheep are shorn with festivals;
There women bring forth children like their sire,
And all, in all kinds, find their own entire;
Nor ever plow they up the barren seas,
Their own fat fields yield store enough to please.
But whom rude Injury delights, and acts
That misery and tyranny contracts,
Sharp-sighted Jove for such predestines pain;
And oftentimes the whole land doth sustain,
For one man’s wickedness, that thriving in
Inequal dooms, still makes him sentence him.
For where such men bear privileg’d office still,
There Jove pours down whole deluges of ill;
Famine and Pestilence together go;
The people perish; women barren grow;
Whole houses vanish there sometimes in peace;
And sometimes armies, rais’d to shield th’ increase
The Gods late gave them, even those Gods destroy,
Their rampires ruin, and let Rapine joy
The goods Injustice gather’d; or, elsewhere,
Jove sinks their ships, and leaves their ventures there.
Weigh, then, yourselves this justice, O ye kings;
For howsoever oft unequal things
Obtain their pass, they pass not so the eyes
Of all the all-discerning Deities;
For close and conversant their virtues be
With men; and, how they grate each other, see,
With wrested judgments; yielding no cares due
To those sure wreaks with which the Gods pursue
Unequal judges. Though on earth there are
Innumerable Gods that minister
Beneath great Jove, that keep men, clad in air,
Corrupt dooms noting, and each false affair,
And, gliding through the earth, are everywhere.
Justice is seed to Jove, in all fame dear,
And reverend to the Gods inhabiting Heaven,
And still a Virgin; whom when men ill given
Hurt, and abhorring from the right shall wrong,
She, for redress, to Jove her sire complains
Of the unjust mind every man sustains
And prays the people may repay the pains
Their kings have forfeited in their offences,
Depraving justice, and the genuine senses
Of laws corrupted in their sentences.
Observing this, ye gift-devouring kings,
Correct your sentences; and to their springs
Remember ever to reduce those streams
Whose crooked courses every man condemns.
Whoever forgeth for another ill,
With it himself is overtaken still.
In ill men run on that they most abhor;
Ill counsel worst is to the councellor.
For Jove’s eye all things seeing, and knowing all,
Even these things, if he will, of force must fall
Within his sight and knowledge; nor to him
Can these brib’d dooms in cities shine so dim
But he discerns them, and will pay them pain;
Else would not I live justly amongst men,
Nor to my justice frame my childeren,
If to be just is ever to be ill,
And that the unjust finds most justice still,
And Jove gave each man in the end his will.
But he that loves the lightning (I conceive)
To these things thus will no conclusion give.
However, Perses, put these in thy heart,
And to the equity of things convert
Thy mind’s whole forces, all thought striking dead
To that foul Rapine that hath now such head.
For in our manhoods Jove hath justice clos’d,
And as a law upon our souls impos’d.
Fish, fowl, and savage beasts, (whose law is pow’r)
Jove lets each other mutually devour,
Because they lack the equity he gives
To govern men, as far best for their lives;
And therefore men should follow it with strives.
For he that knows the justice of a cause,
And will in public ministry of laws
Give sentence to his knowledge, be he sure
God will enrich him. But who dares abjure
His conscious knowledge, and belie the law,
Past cure will that wound in his conscience draw,
And for his radiance now his race shall be
The deeper plung’d in all obscurity.
The just man’s state shall in his seed exceed.
And, after him, breed honours as they breed.
But why men’s ills prevail so much with them,
I, that the good know, will uncloud the beam
In whose light lies the reason. With much ease
To Vice, and her love, men may make access,
Such crews in rout herd to her, and her court
So passing near lies, their way sweet and short;
But before Virtue do the Gods rain sweat,
Through which, with toil and half-dissolved feet,
You must wade to her; her path long and steep.
And at your entry ’tis so sharp and deep,
But scaling once her height, the joy is more
Than all the pain she put you to before.
The pain at first, then, both to love and know
Justice and Virtue, and those few that go
Their rugged way, is cause ’tis follow’d lest.
Of all men, therefore, he is always best
That, not depending on the mightiest,
Nor on the most, hath of himself descried
All things becoming; and goes fortified
In his own knowledge so far as t’ intend
What now is best, and will be best at th’ end.
Yet he is good, too, and enough doth know,
That only follows, being admonish’d how.
But he that neither of himself can tell
What fits a man, nor being admonish’d well
Will give his mind to learn, but flat refuse,
That man cast out from every human use.
Do thou, then, ever in thy memory place
My precepts, Perses, sprung of sacred race,
And work out what thou know’st not, that with hate
Famine may prosecute thy full estate,
And rich-wreath’d Ceres (reverenc’d of all)
Love thee as much, and make her festival
Amids thy granaries. Famine evermore
Is natural consort of the idle boor.
Whoever idly lives, both Gods and men
Pursue With hateful and still-punishing spleen.
The slothful man is like the stingless drone,
That all his power and disposition
Employs to rob the labours of the bee,
And with his sloth devours her industry.
Do thou repose thy special pleasure, then,
In still being conversant with temperate pain,
That to thee still the Seasons may send home
Their utmost store. With labour men become
Herdful and rich; with labour thou shalt prove
Great both in human and the Deities’ love.
One with another, all combined in one,
Hate with infernal horror th’ idle drone.
Labour, and thrive, and th’ idle ’twill inflame.
No shame to Labour; Sloth is yok’d with shame.
Glory and Virtue into consort fall
With wealth; wealth, Godlike, wins the grace of all;
Since which yet springs out of the root of pain,
Pain hath precedence, so thou dost maintain
The temper fitting, and the foolish vein
Of striving for the wealth of other men
Thou giv’st no vent, but on thine own affairs
Convert’st thy mind, and thereon lay’st thy cares.
And then put on with all the spirit you can;
Shame is not good in any needy man.
Shame much obscures, and makes as much to fame;
Wealth loves audacity; Want favours shame.
Riches, not ravish’d, but divinely sent
For virtuous labour, are most permanent.
If any stand on force, and get wealth so,
Or with the tongue spoil, as a number do,
When gain, or craft, doth overgo the soul,
And impudence doth honest shame control,
God easily can the so-made-great disgrace,
And his house, rais’d so, can as easily race.
Riches bear date but of a little space.
Who wrongs an humble suppliant, doth offend
As much as he that wrongs a guest, or friend.
Who for his brother’s wife’s love doth ascend
His brother’s bed, and hath his vicious end,
Offends no more than he that doth deceive
An orphan of the goods his parents leave;
Or he that in the wretched bounds of age
Reviles his father. All these Jove enrage,
And shall receive of him revenge at last,
Inflicting all pains that till then they past.
From all these, therefore, turn thy striving mind,
And to the utmost see the Gods assign’d,
Chastely and purely, all their holy dues.
Burn fattest thighs to them; and sometimes use
Off’rings of wine; sometimes serve their delights
With burning incense; both when bed-time cites
And when from bed the sacred morning calls;
That thou may’st render the Celestials
All ways propitious; and so none else gather
Thy fortunes strow’d, but thou reap others rather.
Suffer thy foe thy table; call thy friend
In chief one near, for if occasion send
Thy household use of neighbours, they undrest
Win haste to thee, where thy allies will rest
Till they be ready. An ill neighbour is
A curse; a good one is as great a bliss.
He hath a treasure, by his fortune sign’d,
That hath a neighbour of an honest mind.
No loss of ox, or horse, a man shall bear,
Unless a wicked neighbour dwell too near.
Just measure take of neighbours, just repay,
The same receiv’d, and more, if more thou may,
That after needing, thou may’st after find
Thy wants’ supplier of as free a mind.
Take no ill gain; ill gain brings loss as ill.
Aid quit with aid; good-will pay with good-will.
Give him that hath given; him that hath not give not;
Givers men give; gifts to no givers thrive not.
Giving is good, rapine is deadly ill.
Who freely gives, though much, rejoiceth still;
Who ravines is so wretched, that, though small
His first gift be, he grieves as if ’twere all.
Little to little added, if oft done,
In small time makes a great possession.
Who adds to what is got, needs never fear
That swarth-cheek’d hunger will devour his cheer;
Nor will it hurt a man though something more
Than serves mere need he lays at home in store;
And best at home, it may go less abroad.
If cause call forth, at home provide thy rode,
Enough for all needs, for free spirits die
To want, being absent from their own supply.
Which note, I charge thee. At thy purse’s height,
And when it fights low, give thy use his freight;
When in the midst thou art, then check the blood;
Frugality at bottom is not good.
Even with thy brother think a witness by,
When thou would’st laugh, or converse liberally;
Despair hurts none beyond credulity.
Let never neat-girt dame, that all her wealth
Lays on her waist, make profit of her stealth
On thy true judgment; nor be heard to feign
With her fork’d tongue, so far forth as to gain
Thy candle rent (she calls it). He that gives
A woman trust doth trust a den of thieves.
One only son preserves a family,
As feeding it with only fit supply.
And that house to all height his riches rears
Whose sire dies old, and leaves a son of years.
To many children, too, God easily spares
Wealth store; but still, more children the more cares,
And to the house the more access is made.
If, then, the hearty love of wealth invade
Thy thrifty mind, perform what follows here,
And, one work done, with others serve the year.
When, Atlas’ birth, the Pleiades arise,
Harvest begin, plow when they leave the skies.
Twice twenty days and nights these hide their heads;
The year then turning, leave again their beds,
And show when first to whet the harvest steel.
This likewise is the law the fields must feel,
Both with sea-dwellers, near and high, and those
Whose winding valleys Neptune overflows,
That fenny grounds and marshes dwell upon,
Along the fat and fruitful region.
But, wheresoever thou inhabit’st, ply
The fields before fierce winter’s cruelty
Oppress thy pains, when thou may’st naked plow,
Naked cast in thy seed, and naked mow,
If timely thou wilt hear into thy barn
The works of Ceres; and to that end learn
As timely to prepare thy whole increase,
Lest, in the meantime, thy necessities
Importune thee at others’ doors to stand,
And beg supplies to thy unthrifty hand;
As now thou com’st to me, but I no more
Will give, or lend thee, what thou may’st restore
By equal measure, nor will trust thee so.
Labour, vain Perses, and those labours do,
That, by the certain sign of beggary
Demonstrated in idle drones, thine eye
May learn the work that equal Deity
Imposeth of necessity on men;
Lest with thy wife, and wanting childeren,
(Thy mind much griev’d) thou seek’st of neighhours food,
Thine own means failing. Men grow cold in good.
Some twice, or thrice, perhaps, thy neighhour will
Supply thy wants; whom if thou troubl’st still,
Thou com’st off empty, and to air dost strain
A world of words; words store make wanting men.
I charge thee, therefore, see thy thoughts employ’d
To pay thy debts, and how thou may’st avoid
Deserved famine. To which end, first see
Thy wife well order’d, and thy family;
Thy plow-drawn ox; thy maid, without her spouse,
And wisely hir’d, that business in thy house
May first work off, and then to tillage come.
To both which offices make fit at home
Everything needful, lest abroad thou send
To ask another, and he will not lend;
Meantime thou want’st them, time flies fast away,
Thy work undone, which not from day to day
Thou should’st defer ; the work-deferrer never
Sees full his barn; nor he that leaves work ever,
And still is gadding out. Care-flying ease
Gives labour ever competent increase.
He that with doubt his needful business crosses
Is ever wrastling with his certain losses.
When, therefore, of the swift-sharp-sighted sun
The chief force faints, and sweating heat is done,
Autunm grown old, and opening his last vein,
And great Jove steeping all things in his rain,
Man’s body chang’d, and made more lightsome far,
(For then but small time shines the Sirian star
Above the heads of hard-fate-foster’d man,
Rising near day, and his beams Austrian
Enjoy’d in night most),— when, I say, all this
Follows the season, and the forest is
Sound, being fell’d, his leaves upon the ground
Before let fall, and leaving what they crown’d
Then constantly take time to fell thy wood;
Of husbandry the time kept is the blood.
Cut then your three-foot quern; whose pestle cut
Three cubits long; your axletree seven foot.
If it be eight foot, cut your mallet thence;
The felfs, that make your cart’s circumference,
Cut three spans long. Many crook’d pieces more,
Ten palms in length, fell for your wagons’ store.
All which poor rules a rich convenience yield.
If thou shalt find a culter in the field,
Or on the mountain, either elm or oak,
Convey it home, since, for thy beasts of yoke
To plow withal, ’twill most his strength maintain;
And, chiefly, if Athenian Ceres’ swain
It fixing to the draught-tree, lest it fails,
Shall fit it to the handles’ stay with nails.
Two plows compose, to find thee work at home,
One with a share that of itself doth come
From forth the plow’s whole piece, and one set on;
Since so ’tis better much, for, either gone,
With th’ other thou may’st instantly impose
Work on thy oxen. On the laurel grows,
And on the elm, your best plow-handles ever;
Of oak your draught-tree; from the maple never
Go for your culter; for your oxen chuse
Two males of nine years’ old, for then their use
Is most aTailable, since their strengths are then
Not of the weakest, and the youthful mean
Sticks in their nerves still; nor will these contend
With skittish tricks, when they the stitch should end,
To break their plow, and leave their work undone.
These let a youth of forty wait upon,
Whose bread at meals in four good shivers cut.
Eight bits in every shive; for that man, put
To his fit task, will see it done past talk
With any fellow, nor will ever balk
In any stitch he makes, but give his mind
With care t’ his labour. And this man no hind
(Though much his younger) shall his better be
At sowing seed, and, shunning skilfully,
Need to go over his whole work again.
Your younger man feeds still a flying vein
From his set task, to hold his equals chat,
And trifles works he should be serious at.
Take notice, then, when thou the crane shalt hear
Aloft out of the clouds her clanges rear,
That then he gives thee signal when to sow,
And Winter’s wrathful season doth foreshow;
And then the man, that can no oxen get,
Or wants the season’s work, his heart doth eat.
Then feed thy oxen in the house with hay;
Which he that wants with ease enough will say,
“Let me, alike, thy wain and oxen use.”
Which ’tis as easy for thee to refuse,
And say thy oxwork then importunes much.
He that is rich in brain will answer such:
“Work up thyself a wagon of thine own;
For to the foolish borrower is not known
That each wain asks a hundred joints of wood;
These things ask forecast, and thou shouldst make good
At home before thy need so instant stood.”
When, therefore, first fit plow-time doth disclose,
Put on thy spirit; all, as one, dispose
Thy servants and thyself; plow wet and dry;
And when Aurora first affords her eye,
In Spring-time, turn the earth up; which see done
Again, past all fail, by the Summer’s sun.
Hasten thy labours, that thy crowned fields
May load themselves to thee, and rack their yields.
The tilth-field sow on earth’s most light foundations;
The tilth-field, banisher of execrations,
Pleaser of sons and daughters; which, t’ improve
With all wish’d profits, pray to earthly Jove,
And virtuous Ceres, that on all such suits
Her sacred gift bestows in blessing fruits.
When first thou enter’st foot to plow thy land,
And on thy plow-staff’s top hast laid thy hand,
Thy oxen’s backs, that next thee by a chain
Thy oaken draught-tree draw, put to the pain
Thy goad imposes; and thy boy behind,
That with his iron rake thou hast design’d
To hide thy seed, let from his labour drive
The birds that offer on thy sweat to live.
The best thing that in human needs doth fall
Is Industry, and Sloth the worst of all.
With one, thy corn-ears shall with fruit abound,
And bow their thankful foreheads to the ground;
With th’ other, scarce thy seed again redound.
When Jove, then, gives this good end to thy pain,
Amids the vessels that preserve thy grain
No spiders then shall need t’ usurp their room,
But thou, I think, rejoice, and rest at home.
Provision inn’d enough of everything
To give thee glad heart till the neighbour Spring,
Not go to others to supply thy store,
But others need to come to thee for more.
If at the sun’s conversion thou shalt sow
The sacred earth, thou then may’st sit and mow
Or reap in harvest; such a little pain
Will serve thy use to sell thy thin-grown grain,
And reaps so scanty will take up thy hand;
Thou hid in dust, not comforted a sand,
But gather ‘gainst the grain. Thou should’st be then
Coop’d in a basket up; for worldly men
Admire no unthrifts, Honour goes by gain.
As times still change, so changeth Jove his mind,
Whose seasons mortal men can hardly find.
But if thou shouldst sow late, this well may be,
In all thy slackness, an excuse for thee:
When in the oak’s green arms the cuckoo sings,
And first delights men in the lovely springs,
If much rain fall, ’tis fit then to defer
Thy sowing work; but how much rain to bear,
And let no labour to that much give ear
Past intermission, let Jove steep the grass
Three days together, so he do not pass
An ox’s hoof in depth, and never stay
To strow thy seed in; but if deeper way
Jove with his rain makes, then forbear the field,
For late-sown then will past the foremost yield.
Mind well all this; nor let it fly thy pow’rs
To know what fits the white Spring’s early flow’rs;
Nor when rains timely fall; nor, when sharp cold
In Winter’s wrath doth men from work withhold,
Sit by smiths’ forges, nor warm taverns haunt,
Nor let the bitterest of the season daunt
Thy thrift-arm’d pains, like idle Poverty;
For then the time is when th’ industrious thigh
Upholds, with all increase, his family.
With whose rich hardness spirited, do thou
Poor Delicacy fly, lest, frost and snow
Fled from her love, Hunger sit both them out,
And make thee, with the beggar’s lazy gout,
Sit stooping to the pain, still pointing to ‘t,
And with a lean hand stroke a foggy foot.
The slothful man expecting many things,
With his vain hope that cannot stretch her wings
Past need of necessaries for his kind,
Turns, like a whirlpit, over in his mind
All means that rapine prompts to th’ idle hind;
Sits in the tavern, and finds means to spend
Ill got, and ever doth to worse contend.
When Summer, therefore, in her tropic sits,
Make thou thy servants wear their winter wits,
And tell them this, ere that warm season wast
Make nests, for Smnmer will not ever last.
The month of January’s all-ill days,
For oxen’s good, shun now by July’s rays.
When air’s chill North his noisome frosts shall blow
All over earth, and all the wide sea throw
At heaven in hills, from cold horse-breeding Thrace;
The beaten earth, and all her sylvan race,
Roaring and bellowing with his bitter strokes;
Plumps of thick fir-trees and high-crested oaks
Torn up in vallies, all air’s flood let fly
In him at Earth, sad nurse of all that die;
Wild beasts abhor him, and run clapping close
Their sterns betwixt their thighs; and even all those
Whose hides their fleeces line with highest proof,
Even ox-hides also want expulsive stuff,
And bristled goats, against his bitter gale,
He blows so cold he beats quite through them all.
Only with silly sheep it fares not so;
For they each summer fleec’d, their fells to grow,
They shield all winter, crush’d into his wind.
He makes the old man trudge for life to find
Shelter against him; but he cannot blast
The tender and the delicately-grac’t
Flesh of the virgin, she is kept within
Close by her mother, careful of her skin,
Since yet she never knew how to enfold
The force of Venus swimming all in gold;
Whose snowy bosom, choicely wash’d and balm’d
With wealthy oils, she keeps the house becalm’d
All winter’s spite. When in his fireless shed
And miserable roof still hiding head,
The boneless fish doth eat his feet for cold,
To whom the sun doth never food unfold,
Bat turns above the black men’s populous towers,
On whom he more bestows his radiant hours
Than on th’ Hellenians; then all beasts of horn,
And smooth-brow’d, that in beds of wood are born,
About the oaken dales that north-wind fly,
Gnashing their teeth with restless misery;
And everywhere that care solicits all
That, out of shelter, to their coverts fall,
And caverns eaten into rocks; and then
Those wild beasts shrink, like tame three-footed men
Whose backs are broke with age, and foreheads driven
To stoop to earth, though born to look on heaven;
Even like to these those tough-bred rude ones go,
Flying the white drifts of the northern snow.
Then put thy body’s best munition on,
Soft waistcoats, weeds that th’ ankles trail upon;
And with a little linen weave much wool
In forewov’n webs, and make thy garments full.
And these put on thee, lest thy harsh-grown hair
Tremble upon thee, and into the air
Start, as affrighted ; all that breast of thine
Pointed with bristles like a porcupine.
About thy feet see fitted shoes be tied,
Made of a strongly-dying ox’s hide,
Lin’d with wool socks; besides, when those winds blow
Thy first-fall’n kid-skins sure together sow
With ox’s sinews, and about thee throw,
To be thy refuge ‘gainst the soaking rain.
Upon thy head a quilted hat sustain,
That from thy ears may all air’s spite expell.
When north-winds blow the air is sharp and fell;
But morning air, that brings a warmth withal
Down from the stars, and on the earth doth fall,
Expires a breath that, all things cheering then,
Is fit to crown the works of blessed men.
Which drawing out of floods that eyer flow,
Wind-storms are rais’d on earth, that roughly blow;
And then sometimes a shower falls towards even,
And sometimes air in empty blasts is driven,
Which from the north-wind rising out of Thrace,
And gloomy clouds, rais’d, haste thee home apace,
Thy work for that day done, th’ event forseen,
Lest out of Heaven a dark cloud hide thee clean,
Thy weeds wet through, and steep thee to the skin;
But shun it, for when this cold month comes in
Extreme it is for sheep, extreme for men.
Take from thy oxen half their commons then,
But mend thy servants’, for ingenious Night,
Then great in length, affects the appetite
With all contention, and alacrity
To all invention, and the scrutiny
Of all our objects, and must therefore feast
To make the spirits run high in their inquest.
These well observing all the yearns remain,
The days and nights grow equal; till again
Earth, that of all things is the Mother Queen,
All fruits promiscuously brings forth for men.
When, after sixty turnings of the sun,
By Jove’s decrees, all Winter’s hours are run,
Then does the evening-star, Arcturus, rise,
And leave the unmeasur’d ocean; all men’s eyes,
First nothingthjen his beams; and after him,
Before the clear morn’s light hath chac’d the dim,
Pandion’s Swallow breaks out with her moan,
Made to the light, the Spring but new put on.
Preventing which, cut vines, for then ’tis best;
But when the horn’d house-bearer leaves his rest,
And climbs the plants, the Seven Stars then in flight,
Nowhere dig vines, but scythes whet, and excite
Servants to work; fly shady tavern bow’rs,
And beds, as soon as light salutes the flow’rs.
In harvest, when the sun the body dries,
Then haste and fetch the fields home; early rise,
That plenty may thy household wants suffice;
The morn the third part of thy work doth gain;
The morn makes short thy way, makes short thy pain;
The morn being once up fills the ways with all,
And yokes the ox, herself up, in his stall.
When once the thistle doth his flower prefer,
And on the tree the garrulous grashopper,
Beneath her wings, all day and all night long
Sits pouring out her derisory song,
When Labour drinks, his boiling sweat to thrive,
Then goats grow fat, then best wine choose, then strive
Women for work most, and men least can do;
For then the Dog-star burns his drought into
Their brains and knees, and all the body dries.
But then betake thee to the shade that lies
In shield of rocks; drink Biblian wine, and eat
The creamy wafer, goats’ milk that the teat
Gives newly free and nurses kids no more,
Flesh of bough-browsing beeves that never bore,
And tender kids; and, to these, taste black wine,
The third part water of the crystalline
Still-flowing fount that feeds a stream beneath;
And sit in shades where temp’rate gales may breath
On thy oppos’d cheeks, when Orion’s rays
His influence in first ascent assays.
Then to thy labouring servants give command
To dight the sacred gift of Ceres’ hand,
In some place windy, on a well-plan’d floor,
Which all by measure into vessels pour.
Make then thy man-swain one that hath no house,
Thy handmaid one that hath nor child nor spouse,
Handmaids that children have are ravenous.
A mastiff likewise nourish still at home,
Whose teeth are sharp and close as any comb,
And meat him well, to keep with stronger guard
The day-sleep-wake-night man from forth thy yard,
That else thy goods into his caves will bear.
Inn hay and chaff enough for all the year
To serve thy oxen and thy mules, and then
Loose them, and ease the dear knees of thy men.
When Sirius and Orion aspire
To heaven’s steep height, and bright Arcturus’ fire
The rosy-finger’d Morning sees arise,
O Perses, then thy vineyard faculties
See gather’d and got home; which twice five days
And nights, no less, expose to Phoebus’ rays;
Then five days inn them, and in vessels close
The gift the gladness-causing God bestows.
But after that the Seven-stars and the Five
That ‘twixt the Bull’s horns at their set arrive,
Together with the great Orion’s force,
Then ply thy plow as fits the season’s course.
If of a chance-complaining man at seas
The humour take thee, when the Pleiades
Hide head and fly the fierce Orion’s chace,
And the dark-deep Oceanus embrace,
Then diverse gusts of violent winds arise;
And then attempt no naval enterprise,
But ply thy land-affiurs, and draw ashore
Thy ship, and fence her round with stonage store,
To shield her ribs against the humourous gales;
Her pump exhausted, lest Jove’s rainy falls
Breed putrefaction; all tools fit for her,
And all her tacklings, to thy house confer;
Contracting orderly all needful things
That imp a water-treading vessel’s wings;
Her well- wrought stern hang in the smoke at home,
Attending time till fit sea-seasons come;
And then thy swift sail launch, conveying in
Burthen that richly may that trade begin,
As did our father who a voyage went
For want of an estate so competent
As free life ask’d; and long since landed here
When he had measur’d the unmeasur’d sphere
Of all the sea, Aeolian Cumas leaving,
Not flying wealth, (revenues great receiving,
And bliss itself possess’d in all fit store,
If wisely us’d; yet selling that t’ explore
Strange countries, madly covetous of more,)
But only shunning loathsome poverty,
Which yet Jove sends, and men should never fly.
The seat that he was left to dwell upon
Was set in Ascra, near to Helicon,
Amids a miserable village there,
In winter vile, in summer noisomer,
And profitable never. Note thou, then,
To do all works the proper season when,
In sea-works chiefly; for whose use allow
A little ship, but in her bulk bestow
A great big burthen — the more ships sustain
The surer sail they, and heap gain on gain,
If seas run smooth and rugged gusts abstain.
When thy vain mind, then, would sea-ventures try,
In love the land-rocks of loath’d Debt to fly,
And Hunger’s ever harsh-to-hear-of cry,
I’ll set before thee all the trim and dress
Of those still-roaring-noise-resounding seas,
Though neither skill’d in either ship or sail,
Nor ever was at sea; or, lest I fail,
But for Euboea once from Aulis, where
The Greeks, with tempest driv’n, for shore did stere
Their mighty navy, gather’d to employ
For sacred Greece ‘gainst fair-dame-breeding Troy;
To Chalcis there I made by sea my pass,
And to the Games of great Amphidamas,
Where many a fore-studied exercise
Was instituted, with exciteful prize,
For great-and-good and able-minded men;
And where I won, at the Pierian pen,
A three-ear’d tripod, which I offered on
The altars of the Maids of Helicon;
Where first their loves initiated me
In skill of their unworldly harmony.
But no more practice have my travails swet
In many-a-nail-composed ships; and yet
I’ll sing what Jove’s mind will suggest in mine,
Whose Daughters taught my verse the rage divine.
Fifty days after heaven’s converted heat,
When Summer’s land-works are dissolv’d with sweat,
Then grows the navigable season fit,
For then no storms rise that thy sail may split,
Nor spoil thy sailors; if the God that sways
Th’ earth-shaking trident do not overpaise,
With any counsel beforehand decreed,
The season’s natural grace to thy good speed,
Nor Jove consent with his revengeful will,
In whom are fixt the bounds of good and ill.
But in the usual temper of the year,
Easy to judge of, and distinguish clear,
Are both the winds and seas, none rude, none cross,
Nor misaffected with the love of loss;
And therefore put to sea; trust even the wind
Then with thy swift ship; but when thou shalt find
Fit freight for her, as fitly stow it straight,
And all haste home make. For no new wine wait,
Nor aged Autumn’s showers, nor Winter’s falls
Then fast approaching, nor the noisome gales
The humorous South breathes, that incense the seas,
And raise together in one series
Jove’s Autumn dashes, that come smoking down,
And with his roughest brows make th’ ocean frown.
But there’s another season for the seas,
That in the first Spring others’ choices please;
When, look how much the crow takes at a stride,
So much put forth the young leaf is descried
On fig-tree tops; but then the gusts so fall,
That oft the sea becomes impervial.
And yet this vernal season many use
For sea affairs; which yet I would not chuse,
Nor give it my mind any grateful taste,
Since then steals out so many a ravenous blast;
Nor but with much scath thou canst ‘scape thy bane,
Which yet men’s greedy follies dare maintain.
Money is soul to miserable men,
And to it many men their souls bequeath.
To die in dark-seas is a dreadful death.
All this I charge thee, need to note no more;
Nor in one vessel venture all thy store,
But most part leave out, and impose the less,
For ’tis a wretched thing t’ endure distress
Incurr’d at sea; and ’tis as ill, ashore
To use adventures, covetous of more
Than safety warrants, as upon thy wain
To lay on more load than it can sustain;
For then thy axle breaks, thy goods diminish,
And thrift’s mean means in violent av’rice vanish.
The mean observ’d makes an exceeding state;
Occasion took at all times equals Fate.
Thyself if well in years, thy wife take home
Not much past thirty, nor have much to come;
But being young thyself, nuptials that seize
The times’ best season in their acts are these:
At fourteen years a woman grows mature,
At fifteen wed her, and best means inure
To marry her a maid, to teach her then
Respect to thee and chasteness t’ other men.
In chief, choose one whose life is near thee bred,
That her condition circularly weigh’d,
(And that with care, too,) in thy neighbours’ eyes,
Thou wedd’st not for a maid their mockeries.
No purchase passes a good wife, no loss
Is than a bad wife a more cursed cross,
That must a gossip be at every feast,
And private cates provide, too, for her guest,
And bear her husband ne’er so bold a breast,
Without a fire burns in him even to rage,
And in his youth pours grief on him in age.
The Gods’ forewarnings, and pursuits of men
Of impious lives with unavoided pain,
Their sight, their rule of all, their love, their fear.
Watching and sitting up give all thy care.
Give never to thy friend an even respect
With thy born brother, for in his neglect
Thyself thou touchest first with that defect.
If thou shalt take thy friend with an offence
By word, or deed, twice only, try what sense
He hath of thy abuse by making plain
The wrong he did thee; and if then again
He will turn friend, confess and pay all pain
Due for his forfeit, take him into grace;
The shameless man shifts friends still with his place.
But keep thou friends, forgive, and so convert
That not thy look may reprehend thy heart.
Be not a common host for guests, nor one
That can abide the kind receipt of none.
Consort none ill though rais’d to any state,
Nor leave one good though ne’er so ruinate.
Abhor all taking pleasure to upbraid
A forlorn poverty, which God hath laid
On any man in so severe a kind
As quite disheartens and dissolves his mind.
Amongst men on the earth there never sprung
An ampler treasure than a sparing tongue;
Which yet most grace gains when it sings the mean.
Ill-speakers ever hear as ill again.
Make not thyself at any public feast
A troublesome or over-curious guest;
‘Tis common cheer, nor touches thee at all;
Besides, thy grace is much, thy cost is small.
Do not thy tongue’s grace the disgrace to lie,
Nor mend a true-spoke mind with policy,
But all things use with first simplicity.
To Jove nor no God pour out morning wine
With unwash’d hand; for, know, the Powers Divine
Avert their ears, and prayers impure reject.
Put not thy urine out, with face erect,
Against the Sun, but, sitting, let it fall,
Or turn thee to some undiscovering wall;
And, after the great Sun is in descent,
Remember, till he greet the Orient,
That, in way or without, thou still forbear,
Nor ope thy nakedness while thou art there.
The nights the Gods’ are, and the godly man
And wife will shun by all means to profane
The Gods’ appropriates. Make no access,
Thy wife new left, to sacred mysteries,
Or coming from an ominous funeral feast;
But, from a banquet that the Gods have blest
In men whose spirits are frolicly inclin’d,
Perform those rites that propagate thy kind.
Never the fair waves of eternal floods
Pass with thy feet, but first invoke the Gods,
Thine eyes cast on their streams; which those that wade,
Their hands unwash’d, those Deities invade
With future plagues and even then angry are.
Of thy five branches see thou never pare
The dry from off the green at solemn feasts;
Nor on the quaffing mazers of thy guests
Bestow the bowl vow’d to the Powers Divine,
For harmful fate is swallow’d with the wine.
When thou hast once begun to build a house,
Leav’t not unfinish’d, lest the ominous
Ill-spoken crow encounter thee abroad,
And from her bough thy means outgone explode.
From three-foot pots of meat set on the fire
To serve thy house; serve not thy taste’s desire
With ravine of the meat till on the board
Thou seest it set, and sacrifice afford.
Not if thou wash first, and the Gods wouldst please
With that respect to them; for even for these
Pains are impos’d, being all impieties.
On tombstones, or fix’d seats, no boy permit,
That’s grown to twelve years old, to idly sit;
For ’tis not good, but makes a slothful man.
In baths, whose waters women first began
To wash their bodies in, should bathe no man;
For in their time even these parts have their pain
Grievous enough. If any homely place,
Sylvan or other, thou seest vow’d to grace
Of any God, by fire made for the weal
Of any poor soul mov’d with simplest zeal,
Mock not the mysteries, for God disdains
Those impious parts, and pays them certain pains.
Never in channels of those streams that pay
The ocean tribute give thy urine way;
Nor into fountains, but, past all neglect,
See thou avoid it; for the grave respect
Given to these secrets meets with blest effect.
Do this, and fly the people’s bitter fame,
For fame is ill, ’tis light and rais’d like flame;
The burthen heavy yet, and hard to cast.
No fame doth wholly perish, when her blest
Echo resounds in all the people’s cries,
For she herself is of the Deities.
The Days that for thy works are good or ill,
According to the influence they instil,
Of Jove with all care learn, and give them then,
For their discharge, in precept to thy men.
The Thirtieth day of every month is best,
With diligent inspection to digest
The next month’s works, and part thy household foods;
That being the day when all litigious goods
Are justly sentenced by the people’s voices.
And till that day next month give these days’ choices,
For they are mark’d out by most-knowing Jove.
First, the First day in which the moon doth move
With radiance renew’d; and then the Fourth;
The Seventh day next, being first in sacred worth,
For that day did Latona bring to light
The gold-sword-wearing Sun; next then the Eighth
And Ninth are good, being hoth days that retain
The moon’s prime strength t’ instruct the works of men.
The ‘Leventh and Twelfth are likewise both good days;
The Twelfth yet far exceeds the ‘Leventh’s repair,
For that day hangs the spinner in the air,
And weaves up her web; so the spinster all
Her rock then ends, exposing it to sale.
So Earth’s third housewife, the ingenious ant,
On that day ends her mole-hills’ cure of want.
The day herself in their example then
Tasking her fire, and bounds her length to men.
The Thirteenth day take care thou sow no seed,
To plant yet ’tis a day of special speed.
The Sixteenth day plants set prove fruitless still,
To get a son ’tis good, a daughter ill,
Nor good to get, nor give in nuptials.
Nor in the Sixth day any influence falls
To fashion her begetting confluence,
But to geld kids and lambs, and sheep-cotes fence,
It is a day of much benevolence;
To get a son it good effects affords,
And loves to cut one’s heart with bitter words;
And yet it likes fair speeches, too, and lies,
And whispering out detractive obloquies.
The Eighth the bellowing bullock lib and goat;
The Twelfth the labouring mule. But if of note
For wisdom, and to make a judge of laws,
To estimate and arbitrate a cause.
Thou wouldst a son get, the great Twentieth day
Consort thy wife, when full the morn’s broad ray
Shines through thy windows; for that day is fit
To form a great and honourable wit.
The Tenth is likewise good to get a son;
Fourteenth a daughter; then lay hand upon
The colt, the mule, and horn-retorted steer,
And sore-bit mastiff, and their forces rear
To useful services. Be careful, then,
The Four-and-twentieth day (the bane of men,
Hurling amongst them) to make safe thy state,
For ’tis a day of death insatiate.
The Fourth day celebrate thy nuptial-feast,
All birds observ’d that fit a bridal best.
All Fifth days to effect affairs in fly,
Being all of harsh and horrid quality;
For then all vengeful spirits walk their round,
And haunt men like their handmaids, to confound
Their faithless peace, whose plague Contention got.
The Seventeenth day what Ceres did allot
Thy barns in harvest (since then view’d with care)
Upon a smooth floor let the vinnoware
Dight and expose to the opposed gale;
Then let thy forest-feller cut thee all
Thy chamber fuel, and the numerous parts
Of naval timber apt for shipwrights’ arts.
The Four-and-twentieth day begin to close
Thy ships of leak. The Ninth day never blows
Least ill at all on men. The Nineteenth day
Yields (after noon yet) a more gentle ray,
Auspicious both to plant, and generate
Both sons and daughters; ill to no estate.
But the Thrice-Nine day’s goodness few men know,
Being hest day of the whole month to make flow
Both wine and corn-tuns, and to curb the force
Of mules and oxen and the swift-hoov’d horse;
And then the well-built ship launch. But few men
Know truth in anything, or where or when
To do, or order, what they must do, needs,
Days differencing with no more care than deeds.
The Twice-Seventh day for sacred worth exceeds.
But few men when the Twentieth day is past,
Which is the best day (while the morn doth last
In her increasing power, though after noon
Her grace grows faint) approve or end that moon
With any care ; man’s life most prized is least,
Though lengthless spent as endless, fowl and beast
Far passing it for date. For all the store
Of years man boasts, the prating crow hath more
By thrice three lives; the long-liv’d stag four parts
Exceeds the crow’s time; the raven’s age the hart’s
Triples in durance; all the raven’s long date
The phoenix ninefold doth reduplicate;
Yet Nymphs (the blest Seed of the Thunderer)
Ten lives outlast the phoenix. But prefer
Good life to long life; and observe these days
That must direct it, being to all men’s ways
Of excellent conduct; all the rest but sounds
That follow falls, mere vain and have no grounds;
But one doth one day praise, another other,
Few knowing the truth. This day becomes a mother,
The next a stepdame. But, be man still one,
That man a happy angel waits upon,
Makes riches and blessed, that through all these days
Is knowingly employ’d; in all his ways
(Betwixt him and the Gods) goes still unblam’d;
All their forewarnings and suggestions fram’d
To their obedience, being directly view’d;
All good endeavour’d and all ill eschewed.