Of the Nature of Things

by Lucretius

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Book IV - Proem

I wander afield, thriving in sturdy thought,
     Through unpathed haunts of the Pierides,
     Trodden by step of none before. I joy
     To come on undefiled fountains there,
     To drain them deep; I joy to pluck new flowers,
     To seek for this my head a signal crown
     From regions where the Muses never yet
     Have garlanded the temples of a man:
     First, since I teach concerning mighty things,
     And go right on to loose from round the mind
     The tightened coils of dread religion;
     Next, since, concerning themes so dark, I frame
     Song so pellucid, touching all throughout
     Even with the Muses' charm—which, as 'twould seem,
     Is not without a reasonable ground:
     For as physicians, when they seek to give
     Young boys the nauseous wormwood, first do touch
     The brim around the cup with the sweet juice
     And yellow of the honey, in order that
     The thoughtless age of boyhood be cajoled
     As far as the lips, and meanwhile swallow down
     The wormwood's bitter draught, and, though befooled,
     Be yet not merely duped, but rather thus
     Grow strong again with recreated health:
     So now I too (since this my doctrine seems
     In general somewhat woeful unto those
     Who've had it not in hand, and since the crowd
     Starts back from it in horror) have desired
     To expound our doctrine unto thee in song
     Soft-speaking and Pierian, and, as 'twere,
     To touch it with sweet honey of the Muse—
     If by such method haply I might hold
     The mind of thee upon these lines of ours,
     Till thou dost learn the nature of all things
     And understandest their utility.

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