Samuel Johnson

(1709 - 1784 / Lichfield / England)

Anacreon: Ode 9


Lovely courier of the sky,
Whence and whither dost thou fly?
Scattering, as thy pinions play,
Liquid fragrance all the way:
Is it business? is it love?
Tell me, tell me, gentle dove.
'Soft Anacreon's vows I bear,
Vows to Myrtale the fair;
Graced with all that charms the heart,
Blushing nature, smiling art.
Venus, courted by an ode,
On the bard her dove bestow'd:
Vested with a master's right,
Now Anacreon rules my flight;
His the letters that you see,
Weighty charge, consign'd to me:
Think not yet my service hard,
Joyless task without reward;
Smiling at my master's gates,
Freedom my return awaits;
But the liberal grant in vain
Tempts me to be wild again.
Can a prudent dove decline
Blissful bondage such as mine?
Over hills and fields to roam,
Fortune's guest without a home;
Under leaves to hide one's head,
Slightly shelter'd, coarsely fed:
Now my better lot bestows
Sweet repast and soft repose;
Now the generous bowl I sip,
As it leaves Anacreon's lip:
Void of care, and free from dread,
From his fingers snatch his bread,
Then with luscious plenty gay,
Round his chamber dance and play;
OR from wine as courage springs,
O'er his face extend my wings;
And when feast and frolic tire
Drop asleep upon his lyre.
This is all, be quick and go,
More than all thou canst not know;
Let me now my pinions ply,
I have chatter'd like a pye.'

Submitted: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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