—Freely from Horace’s “Ode 1.6”
Let Varius be the one who writes the song,
Agrippa, of your latest victory.
He’s as brave in verse as you are in a throng
Of foreign men-at-arms or cavalry.
Just ask Maecenas: I’m not one to sing
Of such grave matters as Achilles’ wrath
Or poor Ulysses’ crooked piloting
Or Agamemnon’s hot homecoming bath.
A poet of my humble luck, beholden
To friends and patrons for his cup and plate,
Is not the sort the Muses dare embolden
To outline any politician’s fate.
Let others paint the leaders of our time,
Dressed out like Mars in adamantine arms
Or like Meriones in Trojan grime
Or Diomedes in Minerva’s charms.
My war songs are the anthems of the bored,
The heroes of my less-than-epic tales
Old fools like me, who’ve scarcely held a sword,
Whose scars are all from happy housewives’ nails.