The gods with priceless jewels were not bought,
Nor with the poison-chalice made aghast,
Nor ceased until they held the nectar fast,
The firm forsake not what they once have sought.
Sleeping sometimes upon the ground, sometimes on gorgeous bed,
Sometimes with simple herbs content, sometimes on dainties fed,
One moment clothed in rags, anon ruffling in gallant show,
the hero, following still his end, recks not of joy or woe.
Mercy's the ornament of power, of courage courteous rede,
Of learning modesty, of wealth bounty to those that need,
Of hermits gentleness and truth, long-suffering of a king,
Of all men virtuous character, whence all these glories spring.
Let cunning statesmen praise or blame,
Let Fortune turn or go her way,
Come instant death, or lingering shame,
Firm souls from virtue will not stray.
A snake lay helpless in the box pining for lack of meat,
A rat by night gnaws through the side, and yields his foe a treat,
With strength recruited then the snake by that same hole escapes--
Behold how vain our efforts are! Fate all our fortune shapes.
Flung down with force, the higher springs the ball,
So good men rise victorious from their fall.
Sloth is the foe that makes our souls his lair,
Vigour the friend that saves us from despair.
The moon her wasted orb renews,
The tree when pruned puts forth fresh leaf,
Th' afflicted sage this course pursues,
Nor yields to unavailing grief.