Tony Cousins: ‘Arthur Brown’ and ‘Horace. Odes 2. 10.’

Arthur Brown

Army Intelligence, then two Chairs at London,
Were left behind, as was his family,
When he retreated to the colonies.
He was a model, fortunately for us,
Of affable astuteness and high learning.
Manuscripts he loved, and Irish whiskey.
Establishing the text of Heywood’s plays
Occupied his professorial days,
And, just so, friendships. No one here quite saw
How far he’d journeyed past the current truths
From late modernity’s dull catechism
On textual scholarship. He tacitly
Moved in advance of the polite consensus.
Meanwhile, he’d have a drink and reminisce,
Take care of his cat, and mind his work.

Tony Cousins

Horace. Odes 2. 10.
(Rectius vives, Licini, neque altum)

You will fare better, Licinius, if you’re not
Always pushing out toward deep waters,
Or, always clinging to the treacherous coast
When you’re wary and afraid of storms.

Whoever takes the golden middle way
Is safe—free from a home that’s tumbling down
In wretchedness—and sane—free from a Great
House that summons everyone’s resentment.

More often it’s the lofty pine that’s shaken
By winds; and it’s the proud towers that collapse
With heavier downfall; it’s the highest points
Of mountains that the thunderbolts attack.

The heart well readied for good luck or bad
Hopes in adversity, is apprehensive
In better days. Jupiter brings back
The ugly winters; and this very god

Banishes them. If things go badly now,
They won’t always. And at times Apollo
Rouses, with his lyre, the silent Muse;
He does not always draw and aim his bow.

When you’re put to the test, show everyone
That you’re courageous and that you’re resolved;
But wisely reef your sails when they are swollen
By a breeze that’s suspiciously kind.

Tony Cousins

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