There is one story
that Virtue has her dwelling place above rock walls hard to climb
with a grave chorus of light-footed nymphs attendant about her
and she is not to be looked upon by the eyes of every mortal
only by one who with sweat, with clenched concentration
and courage, climbs to the peak.
You must always be drunk. Everything is there: it is the only question.
Not to feel the horrible burden of Time breaking your shoulders and
bowing you towards the ground, you must get drunk without stopping.
But on what? On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, after your fashion. But get drunk.
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace, in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dreary solitude of your own room, you wake up,
with your drunkenness already lessened or gone,
ask wind, wave, star, bird, clock,
everything that flees, murmurs, rolls, sings, speaks,
ask what time it is;
and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you:
,,It is time to get drunk! Not to be the tormented slaves of Time,
get drunk without stopping!
On wine, on poetry, or on virtue, after your fashion.’’
O Virtue, won by earnest strife,
And holding out the noblest prize
That ever-gilded earthly life,
Or drew it on to seek the skies;
For thee what son of Greece would not
Deem it an enviable lot,
To live the life, to die the death,
That fears no weary hour, shrinks from no ﬁery breath?
Such fruit hast thou of heavenly bloom,
A lure more rich than golden heap,
More tempting than the joys of home,
More bland than spell of soft-eyed sleep.
For thee Alcides, son of Jove,
And the twin boys of Leda strove,
With patient toil and sinewy might,
Thy glorious prize to grasp, to reach thy lofty height.
Achilles, Ajax, for thy love
Descended to the realms of night;
Atarneus’ King thy vision drove,
To quit for aye the glad sun-light,
Therefore, to memory’s daughters dear,
His deathless name, his pure career,
Live shrined in song, and link’d with awe,
The awe of Xenian Jove, and faithful friendship’s law…
We can do noble acts without ruling earth and sea.