To the Republic, By Horace

O ship, O battered ship, the backward running waves

Are taking you out to sea again! Oh what to do?

Oh don't you see? Oh make for port! The wind's gone wild!

Your sails are torn! Your mast is shaking! Your oars are gone!

Your onboard gods gone overboard! How long, how long

Can the eggshell hull so frail hold out? O ship so proud,

Your famous name, your gilded stern, your polished decks,

Your polished brass, so useless now, O storm's play thing,

O ship my care, beware, beware the Cyclades!

From "The Odes of Horace," translated by David Ferry (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 344 pp., $30)

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