A Paraphrase on an Ode in Horace’s Third Book, beginning thus:— “Inclusam Danaen turris ahenea.” by Abraham Cowley

A Paraphrase on an Ode in Horace’s Third Book, beginning thus:— “Inclusam Danaen turris ahenea.” by Abraham Cowley


tower of brass, one would have said,
And locks, and bolts, and iron bars,
And guards as strict as in the heat of wars
Might have preserved one innocent maidenhood.
The jealous father thought he well might spare
All further jealous care;
And as he walked, to himself alone he smiled
To think how Venus’ arts he had beguiled;
And when he slept his rest was deep,
But Venus laughed to see and hear him sleep.
She taught the amorous Jove
A magical receipt in love,
Which armed him stronger and which helped him more
Than all his thunder did and his almightyship before.


She taught him love’s elixir, by which art
His godhead into gold he did convert;
No guards did then his passage stay,
He passed with ease, gold was the word;
Subtle as lightning, bright, and quick, and fierce,
Gold through doors and walls did pierce;
And as that works sometimes upon the sword,
Melted the maiden dread away,
Even in the secret scabbard where it lay.
The prudent Macedonian king,
To blow up towns, a golden mine did spring;
He broke through gates with this petar,
’Tis the great art of peace, the engine ’tis of war,
And fleets and armies follow it afar;
The ensign ’tis at land, and ’tis the seaman’s scar.


Let all the world slave to this tyrant be,
Creature to this disguisèd deity,
Yet it shall never conquer me.
A guard of virtues will not let it pass,
And wisdom is a tower of stronger brass.
The muses’ laurel, round my temples spread,
Does from this lightning’s force secure my head,
Nor will I lift it up so high,
As in the violent meteor’s way to lie.
Wealth for its power do we honour and adore?
The things we hate, ill fate, and death, have more.


From towns and courts, camps of the rich and great,
The vast Xerxean army, I retreat,
And to the small Laconic forces fly
Which hold the straits of poverty.
Cellars and granaries in vain we fill
With all the bounteous summer’s store:
If the mind thirst and hunger still,
The poor rich man’s emphatically poor.
Slaves to the things we too much prize,
We masters grow of all that we despise.


A field of corn, a fountain, and a wood,
Is all the wealth by nature understood.
The monarch on whom fertile Nile bestows
All which that grateful earth can bear,
Deceives himself, if he suppose
That more than this falls to his share.
Whatever an estate does beyond this afford,
Is not a rent paid to the Lord;
But is a tax illegal and unjust,
Exacted from it by the tyrant lust.
Much will always wanting be,
To him who much desires.  Thrice happy he
To whom the wise indulgency of Heaven,
With sparing hand but just enough has given.


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