Imitation of Horace

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Enjoy the present smiling hour;
And put it out of fortune’s power.

Imitation of Horace is a 1685 poem by John Dryden.


  • Leave for a while thy costly country seat;
    And, to be great indeed, forget
    The nauseous pleasures of the great:
    Make haste and come:
    Come, and forsake thy cloying store;
    Thy turret that surveys, from high,
    The smoke, and wealth, and noise of Rome;
    And all the busy pageantry
    That wise men scorn, and fools adore:
    Come, give thy soul a loose, and taste the pleasures of the poor.
    • 29th Ode, § 3

  • Sometimes 'tis grateful to the rich to try
    A short vicissitude, and fit of poverty:
    A savoury dish, a homely treat,
    Where all is plain, where all is neat,
    Without the stately spacious room,
    The Persian carpet, or the Tyrian loom,
    Clear up the cloudy foreheads of the great.
    • 29th Ode, § 4

  • Enjoy the present smiling hour;
    And put it out of fortune’s power.
    • 29th Ode, § 7

  • Happy the man, and happy he alone,
    He who can call today his own;
    He who, secure within, can say,
    Tomorrow, do thy worst, for I have lived today.
    Be fair or foul, or rain or shine,
    The joys I have possess'd, in spite of fate are mine.
    Not Heaven itself upon the past has power;
    But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
    • 29th Ode, § 8

  • Fortune, that, with malicious joy,
    Does man her slave oppress,
    Proud of her office to destroy,
    Is seldom pleased to bless:
    Still various, and unconstant still,
    But with an inclination to be ill,
    Promotes, degrades, delights in strife,
    And makes a lottery of life.
    I can enjoy her while she's kind;
    But when she dances in the wind,
    And shakes the wings, and will not stay,
    I puff the prostitute away:
    The little or the much she gave, is quietly resign'd:
    Content with poverty, my soul I arm;
    And virtue, though in rags, will keep me warm.
    • 29th Ode, § 9

  • How happy in his low degree,
    How rich in humble poverty, is he,
    Who leads a quiet country life;
    Discharged of business, void of strife,
    And from the griping scrivener free!
    Thus, ere the seeds of vice were sown.
    Lived men in better ages born,
    Who plough'd, with oxen of their own,
    Their small paternal field of corn.
    Nor trumpets summon him to war,
    Nor drums disturb his morning sleep,
    Nor knows he merchants' gainful care,
    Nor fears the dangers of the deep.
    The clamours of contentious law,
    And court and state, he wisely shuns,"
    Nor bribed with hopes, nor dared with awe,
    To servile salutations runs.
    • 2nd Epode