The Shipwreck of Simonides


The Shipwreck of Simonides

A man, whose learned worth is known,
Has always riches of his own.
Simonides, who was the head
Of lyric bards, yet wrote for bread,
His circuit took through every town
In Asia of the first renown,
The praise of heroes to rehearse,
Who gave him money for his verse.
When by this trade much wealth was earn’d,
Homewards by shipping he return’d
(A Cean born, as some suppose):
On board he went, a tempest rose,
Which shook th’ old ship to that degree,
She founder’d soon as out at sea.
Some purses, some their jewels tie
About them for a sure supply;
But one more curious, ask’d the seer,
“Poet, have you got nothing here ?”
“My all,” says he, “is what I am.”-
On this some few for safety swam
(For most o’erburden’d by their goods,
Were smother’d in the whelming floods).
The spoilers came, the wealth demand,
And leave them naked on the strand.
It happen’d for the shipwreck’d crew
An ancient city was in view,
By name Clazomena, in which
There lived a scholar learned and rich,
Who often read, his cares to ease,
The verses of Simonides,
And was a vast admirer grown
Of this great poet, though unknown.
Him by his converse when he traced,
He with much heartiness embraced,
And soon equipp’d the bard anew,
With servants, clothes, and money too
The rest benevolence implored,
With case depicted on a board:
Which when Simonides espied,
“I plainly told you all,” he cried,
“That all my wealth was in myself;
As for your chattels and your pelf.
On which ye did so much depend,
They’re come to nothing in the end.” 

The Fables of Phaedrus Translated into English Verse. Phaedrus. Christopher Smart, A. M. London. G. Bell and Sons, Ltd. 1913. Retrieved from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0119%3Abook%3D4%3Apoem%3D22

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