So you sing, for the dear head you mourn has sunk, for ever, beneath the wave. Virgil might wander forth bearing the golden branch "the Sibyl doth to singing men allow," and might visit, as one not wholly without hope, the dim dwellings of the dead and the unborn. To him was it permitted to see and sing "mothers and men, and the bodies outworn of mighty heroes, boys and unwedded maids, and young men borne to the funeral fire before their parent's eyes." The endless caravan swept past him--"many as fluttering leaves that drop and fall in autumn woods when the first frost begins; many as birds that flock landward from the great sea when now the chill year drives them o'er the deep and leads them to sunnier lands." Such things was it given to the sacred poet to behold, and "the happy seats and sweet pleasances of fortunate souls, where the larger light clothes all the plains and dips them in a rosier gleam, plains with their own new sun and stars before unknown." Ah, not frustra pius was Virgil, as you say, Horace, in your melancholy song. In him, we fancy, there was a happier mood than your melancholy patience. "Not, though thou wert sweeter of song than Thracian Orpheus, with that lyre whose lay led the dancing trees, not so would the blood return to the empty shade of him whom once with dread wand, the inexorable God hath folded with his shadowy flocks; but patience lighteneth what heaven forbids us to undo."
Durum, sed levius fit patietia!
It was all your philosophy in that last sad resort to which we are pushed so often -
"With close-lipped Patience for our only friend, Sad Patience, too near neighbour of Despair."
The Epicurean is at one with the Stoic at last, and Horace with Marcus Aurelius. "To go away from among men, if there are Gods, is not a thing to be afraid of; but if indeed they do not exist, or if they have no concern about human affairs, what is it to me to live in a universe devoid of gods or devoid of providence?"
An excellent philosophy, but easier to those for whom no Hope had dawned or seemed to set. Yes! it is harder than common, Horace, for us to think of YOU, still glad somewhere, among rivers like Liris and plains and vine-clad hills, that
Solemque suum, sua sidera norunt.
It is hard, for you looked for no such thing.