Horace Odes, Book 1.22

Horace, the wolf and the upright life

by Horace

Unharmed by a meeting with a wolf, Horace puts his escape down to upright living and the purity of his love for Lalage. We who have had the benefit of David Attenborough know that the wolf, sensible creature, was always going to run away. When you have heard the poem, see the blog post with a beautiful wolf photographed by Gary Kramer here.

Metre: Sapphic

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Integer vitae scelerisque purus
non eget Mauris iaculis neque arcu
nec venenatis gravida sagittis,
Fusce, pharetra,

sive per Syrtis iter aestuosas
sive facturus per inhospitalem
Caucasum vel quae loca fabulosus
lambit Hydaspes.

namque me silva lupus in Sabina,
dum meam canto Lalagen et ultra
terminum curis vagor expeditis,
fugit inermem;

quale portentum neque militaris
Daunias latis alit aesculetis
nec Iubae tellus generat, leonum
arida nutrix.

pone me pigris ubi nulla campis
arbor aestiva recreatur aura,
quod latus mundi nebulae malusque
Iuppiter urget;

pone sub curru nimium propinqui
solis in terra domibus negata:
dulce ridentem Lalagen amabo,
dulce loquentem.

The man of blameless life and free from crime
does not need Moorish javelins or a bow,
nor, Fuscus, a quiver heavy with
poisoned arrows,

whether bound through the blazing Syrtes
or the hostile Caucasus or the places that
the fabled river
Hydaspes waters.

For a wolf in the Sabine woods, while I sang
about my Lalage, wandering with cares forgotten
out of my usual way, ran from me,
unarmed as I was;

such a monster as warlike Daunia feeds
nowhere in her wide oakwoods
and the land of Juba does not breed,
that barren nurse of lions.

Put me in the barren places where not a tree
is cooled by the summer wind,
the side of the world that mists and Jove’s
worst weather oppress;

put me under where the Sun’s chariot runs
too close to uninhabitable lands:
I will love my Lalage, sweetly smiling,
sweetly talking.