The time is ripe for sailing the fifty days
Past solstice, summer in its closing phase,
Season of toil. You will not shipwreck then,
Nor will the sea extinguish all your men,
Unless Earth-shaker, Poseidon, is annoyed,
Or Zeus, King of the Gods, wants you destroyed:
In their hands lies fulfillment, good and ill.
While breezes are predictable, when still
The sea is harmless, then, with confidence,
You can entrust your swift ship to the winds—
Drag it to the sea, load all your freight.
But sail back home quick as you can—don’t wait
For the new wine and autumnal rain, the fast
Onset of winter, South Wind’s fearsome blast
That roils the sea, with the thick autumnal rain
Of Zeus, that makes the sea a sea of pain.
In spring’s another chance to sail—when figs
Put forth their new leaves from the topmost twigs,
The size of crow’s feet–that’s when first the sea
Is passable, that is spring sailing—me,
I do not recommend it. There’s no charm
In a snatched season—you’d scarce flee from harm.
Men do it though, in ignorance of mind—
Money’s the breath of life for poor mankind, *
But death at sea’s a dreadful thing. Have thought
Of all that I proclaim to you: do not
Load hollow ships with your whole livelihood.
Keep most aside, a lesser portion’s good.
It’s terrible to meet a watery fate,
Bad too if loading your cart with too much weight,
You shatter the axle, and you spoil the freight.