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Reflections of a working writer and reader



An Ode from Horace

Ah, Ligurinus,
Still cruel and swaggering with the gifts of Venus,
The day’s not far
When, stealing unawares, a beard will mar
That debonair
Insouciance; that shoulder-rippling hair
Fall; and the skin
Now pinker than the pinkest petal in
A bed of roses
Suffer a rude and bristling metamorphosis.
You’ll say, ‘Alas’
(Seeing the changed face in the looking-glass),
‘Why as a boy
Did I spurn the wisdom that I now enjoy?
How now graft back
To wiser cheeks the rosiness they lack?’

Quintus Horatius Flaccus must have heard of the assassination of Julius Caesar when he was studying philosophy in Athens. Later, when Brutus and Cassius put together an army to oppose Octavian and Anthony, Horace was one of the many idealists who rallied to the cause. He was at the battle of Philippi in 42 bc, one of the few republicans to escape with his life. He went on to become the leading Roman lyric poet of his time.

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