The Syrian hostess, tipsy, head bound in a Grecian band,
does her provoking dance in her famous inn,
deftly sways her lithe hips to the castanet
and shakes the rattles on her elbows.
Why would a tired man prefer being off in the summer
dust to lying on a couch to drink? There are gardens,
corners, cups, roses, music from pipes and strings
and cool tables screened with reed;
a girl chatting sweetly in the Arcadian nook,
and a country pipe playing pastoral.
there is wine breathing, just poured from the resined jar,
a brook sounding with its pattering flow.
There are violets and garlands of golden flowers,
and ones of yellow mixed with purple blooms,
and lilies which a siren brought from
her pristine river in wicker baskets. There are
cheeses in rush trays to dry. There are
plums, waxy with the autumn season,
hazel and chestnuts and sweetly blushing
apples: here Ceres, Love and Bacchus are
dainty; there are blood-coloured brambles and
grapes on pliant stems, and the green cucumber
on the vine: the garden has a guard with a willow
hook: he is not frightening, though huge in the groin.
Come, pilgrim: your donkey is tired and sweating;
Spare him, donkeys are Vesta’s pets. Now the
cicadas split the grove with unremitting song,
the mottled lizard hides in its cool spot: if you
want, now recline and drink from a summer glass,
or if you prefer, raise cup on cup of crystal. Come,
you’re tired, rest here in the shade of the vine,
tie your heavy head with a rosy band,
and reap a pretty girl’s lips with kisses;
old-fashioned prudes, be damned! Dead, you
won’t appreciate these fragrant garlands: why save them?
Or should they go on a gravestone for your bones?
Bring wine and dice: care for tomorrow, be damned!
Death tweaks your ear: “Live,” he says, “I’m on my way!”