First the original, Horace, Ode
Rectius vives, Licini, neque altum
semper urgendo neque, dum procellas
cautus horrescis, nimium premendo
Auream quisquis mediocritatem
diligit, tutus caret obsoleti
sordibus tecti, caret invidenda
Saepius ventis agitatur ingens
pinus et celsae graviore casu
decidunt turres feriuntque summos
Sperat infestis, metuit secundis
alteram sortem bene praeparatum
pectus. Informis hiemes reducit
summovet. Non, si male nunc, et olim
sic erit: quondam cithara tacentem
suscitat Musam neque semper arcum
Rebus angustis animosus atque
fortis appare; sapienter idem
contrahes vento nimium secundo
Receive, dear friend, the truths I teach,
So shalt thou live beyond the reach
Of adverse Fortune's pow’r;
Not always tempt the distant deep,
Nor always timorously creep
Along the treach'rous shore.
He, that holds fast the golden mean,
And lives contentedly between
The little and the great,
Feels not the wants that pinch the poor,
Nor plagues that haunt the rich man's door,
Imbitt'ring all his state.
The tallest pines feel most the pow'r
Of wintry blasts; the loftiest tow'r
Comes heaviest to the ground;
The bolts, that spare the mountain's side,
His cloud-capt eminence divide,
And spread the ruin round.
The well-inform'd philosopher
Rejoices with an wholesome fear,
And hopes, in spite of pain;
If winter bellow from the north,
Soon the sweet spring comes dancing forth,
And nature laughs again.
What if thine heav'n be overcast,
The dark appearance will not last;
Expect a brighter sky;
The God that strings the silver bow
Awakes sometimes the muses too,
And lays his arrows by.
If hindrances obstruct thy way,
Thy magnanimity display
And let thy strength be seen;
But oh! if Fortune fill thy sail
With more than a propitious gale,
Take half thy canvass in.
Licinius, trust a seaman's lore:
Steer not too boldly to the deep,
Nor, fearing storms, by treacherous shore
Too closely creep.
Who makes the golden mean his guide,
Shuns miser's cabin, foul and dark,
Shuns gilded roofs, where pomp and pride
Are envy's mark.
With fiercer blasts the pine's dim height
Is rock'd; proud towers with heavier fall
Crash to the ground; and thunders smite
The mountains tall.
In sadness hope, in gladness fear
'Gainst coming change will fortify
Your breast. The storms that Jupiter
Sweeps o'er the sky
He chases. Why should rain to-day
Bring rain to-morrow? Python's foe
Is pleased sometimes his lyre to play,
Nor bends his bow.
Be brave in trouble; meet distress
With dauntless front; but when the gale
Too prosperous blows, be wise no less,
And shorten sail.
Franklin P. Adams:
Sail not too far to be safe, O Licinius!
Neither too close to the shore should you steer.
Rashness is foolish, and how ignominious
He who possesses neither palace nor hovel
(My little flat would be half way between)
Hasn't a house at which paupers must grovel
Yet it is clean.
Shaken by winds is the pine that is tallest;
Ever the summit is bared to the flash;
The bigger thou art, so the harder thou fallest --
He who in famine can hope for the manna,
He who in plenty fears poverty's chafe --
He is the proper, the true Pollyanna,
Playing it safe.
Jupiter, bringing the bleak, bitter, raw gust,
Also remembers to take it away;
He is the god of December ... but August --
April ... but May.
When you have creditors suing to pay them,
Four-to-an-ace is the way to invest;
But when you win every pot, you should play them
Close to your chest.