"What Shall a Singer Ask of Apollo?"

(Horace, Odes I.31)

translated by Peter Saint-Andre

What shall a singer ask of Apollo
While pouring wine from the offering bowl?
Not the fertile cornfields of rich Sardinia;
Not the finest herds of hot Calabria;
Not gold or ivory from far India;
Not the land that's washed away by gentle
Waters from the quiet-flowing Liris.
Let those whom Fate has assigned prune the vines
With Calenian scythes so that some rich
Merchant may drink deeply, from golden cups,
The wine for which he trades Syrian goods
(He's dear to the gods, for three times a year
He ventures on the Atlantic, unscathed) —
My feast is olives, chicory, mallows.
Grant me my health, I pray, let me enjoy
What I have and pass old age with a sound
Mind, with honor, and with my cithara.

Monadnock Valley Press > Horace