Horace on Contentment
Book II, Ode 18.
“Non ebur neque aureum
Mea renidet in domo lacunar—”
Within my modest home nor ivory gleams, Nor in my room a golden ceiling glitters; No pillars mine from Africa’s extremes, No purple spun by lovely lady-knitters. I’m poor but honest, and—you’ll give me credit— Some poet, too. Some poet’s right; you said it.
For further favors I do not implore The gods above nor any human being; My Sabine farm’s enough. I ask no more. I never argue with the fates’ decreeing. Day follows day. I never dared to doubt it. Suppose I did? What could I do about it?
And yet the very marble newly hewn, The very stone you gaze at, eager, merry, That stone may lie above you very soon In Forest Hills, the well-known ceme-tery. And still, instead of charity and penance, You raise the rent and disposses your tenants.