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I love an old man sprightly,
Our bard is of a graver mood. With all his cheerfulness he hath about him too much of the stern Roman dignity to be cutling up such fandangoes. He feareth not to look forward at evils coming before they oppress him. The sombre thoughts of these he lovelli even to blend with his present enjoyments, and thus, as by adding acids to sweet beverages, he maketh them more palatable. He pointeth to the dark clouds of the future as to a sort of back-ground, to set off more vividly by contrast the joyous light of the present. Of course we do not approve of his religion and philosophy. These were, however, no doubt, in his day the best that the old heathen could lay his hands upon. At any rate, they suited very well bis taste and disposition. In our more favored times, with the joys of immortality revealed, the future is lightened up too splendently to serve any longer as a back-ground. The devout inoralist now-a-days very properly describeth all earthly joys as being unsatisfying and evanescent in their nature, while only those of heaven are substantial. Still, we think we should not entirely overlook the Spring. Our emotions should rise in sympathy with the universal concert of nature on the occasion. It behooveth us to read her moral and religious lessons set forth in their freshest print. The day commemorative of our Saviour's resurrection, we think not without divine intention at first, falleih in this joyous season of the year when all nature is putting forth new life and beauty; and to us it really seemeth wrong that it should be suffered to pass away, as it now always is, without any appropriate observ. ances. But, sweet bard of old, strike up thy lyre again and let us have another vernal ode.
HORACE, Book IV, ODE VII.
Arboribusque comae :
Ducere nuda choros.
Quae rapit Hora diem.
Frigora mitescunt Zephyris: Ver proterit Aestas,
Bruma recurrit iners.
Nos, ubi decidimus,
Pulvis et umbra sumus.
Tempora Dî superi?
Quae dederis animo.
Fecerit arbitria :
Liberat Hippolytum :
[grasses, Fled all off have the the snows: coming back to the fields are the
And to the forests their leaves: Lands sweet change undergo : and streams late swollen subsiding Peacefully flow by their banks:
[adventures Knit with the nymphs and her sisters twain now the Grace forth
Naked to lead up the dance.
Summer; Colds are quelled by the zephyrs; the Spring then is trampled by
She to depart also when
Sluggish is on us again.
We, when we suddenly drop
Ashes and shadows become. Who know'th whether the gods supreme may add to this day's sum Hours of tomorrow or not?
[spendest All shall escape thine heirs clutched hand which at present thou
On the delights of thyself.
Hath been the lucid decree,
Piety back will restore.
For his dear Pirithous.
Sweet moralist, thou certainly knewest best what was most besuiting to thy times and people; but to my modern fancy, I must confess, thy prospective views appear often too dark and lowering. They seem almost to overshadow and overwhelm the joyous present. Thy moral lessons are good enough in their way, but, for the sake of variety, if it please thee, let us hear a strain a little more Anacreontic. Sextius and Torquatus were most worthy personages. It besuited thee to address them in verses serious and majestic. They were rich and noble and thou wast comfortably poor. I have no doubt but that thy moral warnings, at any rate on the latter eloquent and pious gentleman, had their proper influence. Thou didst induce him by thy strains, I feel persuaded, to draw forth the good old wine which, I fear, he kept before too close beneath his many keys, to sparkle in the joyous light, on the festive board, to the great congolation and delight of thyself his welcome guest, but to the no small chagrin and discomfit, I fancy, of his expectant heir. Still, we would fain have a strain from thee less moralizing and stately, more sprightly and jocose. Hadst thou not some friend and companion more intimate and close whom thou couldst therefore address in a style more familiar and mirthful? Methinketh somewhere hereabouts in this fourth book is a song somewhat in this humor. Let me turn over a few leaves. Yes, here it is! That exquisite ode which thou didst indite and send on a pleasant Spring morning to thy friend and fellow poet Virgilius Maro, to invite him to a picknick; he to furnish the nard on the occasion and thou the wine.
HORACE, Book IV, ODE XII.
Hiberna nive turgidı
Regum est ulta libidines.
Delectantque deum, cui pecus et nigri
Colles Arcadiae placent.
Nardo vina mereberis.
Now Spring's wandering sprites, which do the seas becalm,
High swoln from the late winter's snow.
Too deep on the rude lust of kings.
Hills Arcadian gratify.
For nard well shall you merit it.
Sharp cares most efficacious.
To these joys if inclined, come with yourself, in haste,
Like some lord of a wealthy house.
Sweet 'tis loose to let, in its place.
Many thanks to thee, kind-hearted and social bard! At my present writing the season is still unconfirmed. The sap, I am persuadeded by the genial zephyrs, is beginning to be stirred within the trees, but as yet no leaves hath it sent forth from the boughs, not even from hose of the sprightly willows by the brooks, and in the meadows as yet the glossy black bird of the crimsoned shoulders hath not adventured to emit his mellowed notes; but by turning mine ear to thy strains, called forth by the season, and attempting to render them into corresponding English rhythmsalas! losing thereby how much of their beauty! I have nevertheless succeeded in wooing around me the fancies of a fully present Spring. How amaranthine are the genuine flowers of poesie! Of a distant clime and remote age, long since departed bard, before the christian era, thy poems yet breathe a freshness and spirit of beauty, and come home to us with a warmth of feeling in closer harmony with surrounding nature than those of many a modern songster. Mercersburg, Pa.
W. M. N.