Horace, Odes III, XXV

Bacchus, where are you carrying me to
So spirited, so full of you?—
Driven to what woods, recesses,
My new-born vision scarcely guesses.
What echoing ravine will hear
My words enrolling star-god Caesar
In the heavenly senate? I shall sing
Some vigorous, unattempted thing,
Just like the Maenad who wakes up
Having blindly reached the mountain-top,
And wonders at the spread of space—
Dark River Hebrus, snow-clad Thrace,
The range that marks the Balkan frontier.
At rockscapes, woodland I, too, stare,
Grow dionysiac just like her.
Lord of the Naiads and Bacchantes
Who with bare hands uproot the trees,
Nothing little, low or mortal
Shall I sing now: I stand or fall
Bacchus, beside the god who twines
His temples with the verdant vines.

Charles Tomlinson

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 13 Number 1, on page 48
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