276 ergo optes uotumque feras miserabile tecum,
ut sint contentae patulas defundere pelues.
ebrius ac petulans, qui nullum forte cecidit,
dat poenas, noctem patitur lugentis amicum
Pelidae, cubat in faciem, mox deinde supinus:
Pray, then,—and count you humble prayer well sped,
If pots be only —emptied on your head.
The drunken bully, ere his man be slain,
Frets through the night, and courts repose in vain;
And while the thirst of blood his bosom burns,
From side to side, in restless anguish, turns,
Like Peleus’ son, when, quell’d by Hector’s hand,
His loved Patroclus prest the Phrygian strand.
There are, who murder as an opiate take,
And only, when no brawls await them, wake:
Yet even these heroes, flush’d with youth and wine,
All contest with the purple robe decline;
Securely give the lengthen’d train to pass,
The sun-bright flambeaux, and the lamps of brass .—
Me, whom the moon, or candle’s paler gleam,
Whose wick I husband to the last extreme,
Guides through the gloom, he braves, devoid of fear:
The prelude to our doughty quarrel hear,
If that be deem’d a quarrel, where, heaven knows,
He only gives, and I receive, the blows!
Across my path he strides, and bids me STAND!
I bow, obsequious to the dread command;
What else remains, where madness, rage, combine
With youth, and strength superiour far to mine?
“Whence come you, rogue?” he cries; “whose beans, to-night,
Have stuff’d you, thus? what cobbler clubb’d his mite,
For leeks, and sheep’s-head porridge? Dumb! quite dumb!
Speak, or be kick’d.—Yet, once again! your home?
Where shall I find you? At what beggar’s stand,
(Temple, or bridge) whimp’ring, with outstretch’d hand?”
Whether I strive some humble plea to frame,
Or steal in silence by, ’tis just the same;
I’m beaten first, then dragg’d in rage away;
Bound to the peace, or punish’d for the fray!
Mark here the boasted freedom of the poor!
Beaten and bruised, that goodness to adore,
Which, at their humble prayer, suspends its ire,
And sends them home, with yet a bone entire!
Nor this the worst; for when deep midnight reigns,
And bolts secure our doors, and massy chains,
When noisy inns a transient silence keep,
And harass’d nature woos the balm of sleep,
Then, thieves and murderers ply their dreadful trade;
With stealthy steps our secret couch invade:—
Roused from the treacherous calm, aghast we start,
And the flesh’d sword—is buried in our heart!
281 [ergo non aliter poterit dormire; quibusdam]
somnum rixa facit. sed quamuis inprobus annis
atque mero feruens cauet hunc quem coccina laena
uitari iubet et comitum longissimus ordo,
multum praeterea flammarum et aenea lampas.
286 me, quem luna solet deducere uel breue lumen candelae,
cuius dispenso et tempero filum,
contemnit. miserae cognosce prohoemia rixae,
si rixa est, ubi tu pulsas, ego uapulo tantum.
stat contra starique iubet. parere necesse est;
291 nam quid agas, cum te furiosus cogat et idem
fortior? "unde uenis" exclamat, "cuius aceto,
cuius conche tumes? quis tecum sectile porrum
sutor et elixi ueruecis labra comedit?
nil mihi respondes? aut dic aut accipe calcem.
296 ede ubi consistas: in qua te quaero proseucha?"
dicere si temptes aliquid tacitusue recedas,
tantumdem est: feriunt pariter, uadimonia deinde
irati faciunt. libertas pauperis haec est:
pulsatus rogat et pugnis concisus adorat
301 ut liceat paucis cum dentibus inde reuerti.
nec tamen haec tantum metuas; nam qui spoliet te
non derit clausis domibus postquam omnis ubique
fixa catenatae siluit compago tabernae.
interdum et ferro subitus grassator agit rem:
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