Friday, May 18, 2018

Ad Præsidem Gallorum


After Horace IV.15, Phœbus volentem &c.

What can unnerve us, now that Emmanuel
Brandishes so serenely the oriflamme? 
Nor need he conquer lands with war, for
Weapons alone are our dreaded safeguard.

Brandenburg’s pales exclude the destroying Hun;
Westward our empire runs to the Golden Gate
And even farther, for the placid
Ocean is freckled with friendly islands.

Let the deep Danube, tainted with bigotry,
Blacken the far sea. What if the tyrant Qing
Leers at his helots, and enchanters
Strangle Iran? They will never touch us.

Here Jacob slides his arms about Simon’s neck
Safely, and Sarah banishes childbirth.
Emily quits her thuggish husband,
Deaf to the shrieks of offended Levites.

Children of freedom, now is the Pentecost!
Now our great beech waves rust-leaves upon the breeze.
Bring wine and strings, and make the evening
Mingle with dawn by the gliding river.

Thou, my Bathsheba, sing at our elfin feast –
First of grave Lincoln, scourge of the brutal South;
Then of Napoleon the mighty,
Who has established our wide dominion.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Solvitur acris hiems

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From the Odes of Horace.

I.

Winter is broken and soft, and the sweet spring breeze is in the woodland,
          And rollers glide dry keels into the water.
Nor do the sheep huddle up in the pen; and the ploughman leaves his fire,
          For all the frost is melted off the meadows.
                                                      
Venus emerges to dance with her joyful choirs in the moonlight,
          And the three Graces, mingled with the wood-nymphs,
Beat on the earth with their feet in their dances, while unlaughing Vulcan
          Works at his forge and crackles out his lightning.

Now it is fitting to bundle your head in viridescent myrtle
          Or with the flowers strewn upon the damp earth.
Now it is fitting to slaughter a lamb to Faunus in the shaded
          Groves of the forest, less he like a he-goat.

Colourless death will beat on the shacks of paupers, and no less 
          Beat on a king’s house. Sestius, thou consul,
No long hope can be spun from a life that’s fleeting as a vision.
          Night and her fabled shadows press upon you!

Here is the house of the Earth, and once you trickle into darkness,
          No more you’ll rattle the dice among your wine-cups.
Nor will you wonder at delicate Lycidas, fire of all striplings,
          Who in a year will warm the souls of maidens.
                                                     
II

Your winter hearth has languished you. Away!
Get out into the field, and drink the honey-breeze,
For the melting snow relinquishes the trees,
Baring the grass where livestock play. 


The Cytherean goddess leads her choir
Of skipping elves beneath the paschal moon,
And Cyclopean flame, of Vulcan hewn
Veins the heaving sky: yet even higher

The gods have come awake! Go wrap your hair
In knotted flowers, and kill a spotless lamb;
Or if the Faun prefers, despoil a dam
Of her kid, and burn it in the woods somewhere.

Unfeeling death will seize the groaning poor
And princes from their towers. Sestius!
Cut back your hopes, for death unpiteous
And Night will come at last across the moor

To gulp your spririt whole. Once you return
To Earth, no more you’ll gamble, or admire
Sweet Lycidas, who sets all youth afire,
And soon will make his maiden lovers burn.

***


Solvitur acris hiems gratâ vice veris & Favoni
          Trahuntque siccas machinæ carinas
Ac neque jam stabulis gaudet pecus aut arator igni
          Nec prata canis albicant pruinis.

Jam Cytherea choros ducit Venus imminente luna,
          Junctæque nymphis Gratiæ decentes
Alterno terram quatiunt pede dum gravis Cyclopum
          Vulcanus ardens visit officinas.

Nunc decet aut viridi nitidum caput impedire myrto
          Aut flore terræ quem ferunt solutæ.
Nunc et in umbrosis Fauno decet immolare lucis,
          Seu poscat agna sive malit hædo.

Pallida mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
          Regumque turris. O beate Sesti !
Vitæ summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam.
          Jam te premet nox fabulæque Manes

Et domus exilis plutonia quò simul mearis
          Nec regna vini sortiere talis
Nec tenerum Lycidan mirabere quo calet juventus
          Nunc omnis & mox virgines tepebunt.

Friday, January 19, 2018

De sæculi certamine

Washingtonii natali plure vischio quam solito imbutus, levi corde lectum petivi, et ecce in somnio per nemus paludosum errabam, ubi figuram beluæ ingentes mox inter virentes arbores crevi. Cui facies duæ fuerunt in eodem capite oppositæ, pectora etiam in uno trunco opposita duo, ita ut totum monstum duplex videretur, tergo suo in unum consertum. Quattuor pedes et bracchia quattuor habebat, bina scilicet utrique lateri. Quattuor totius monstri pedes in palude lutosa infigebantur, et ranæ inter surarum quadrum saltabant.

Laterum monstri unum femineum erat, et crassissimum quidem. Dianâ Ephesiâ vel almior hæc femina esse videbatur, cum non pectus tantùm, sed etiam pinguia crura atque bracchia uberibus sparsim operirentur. Unumquodque uber infantem suum alebat, his lac pacifice sugentibus, aliis vagientibus atque lac modo gluttitum in matris gremium rursus vomitantibus. Ipsa mater perdormiscebat simul atque stabat, et laxo vultu stupide in somno subridebat. Etsi nudum corpus, cucullâ pudicâ tegebatur calva, et corona aurea post caput nitebat.

Altera vero beluæ latus mas fuit, cujus facies ceu ursi barbata, subque barba ubique pusulata. Tam pingue fuit hirsutum pectus ut papillæ glutinosæ deorsum pendebant. Verpa de iliorum fruticeto eminebat cujus longitudinem ne asini mentulam vincere dixisses.

Iste vir cælum nunc intuitus has preces ter rauca voce recitavit:

Tervagan misericordia sua regat nos in via justitiæ.
Tervagan regnat, Tervagan regnavit, Tervagan regnabit in sæculum sæculorum! 

Tam jam accensus est pio furore ut dum cantabat rigere mentula inciperet, et (simul atque -orum in fine fatus est) e glande circumcisa turbidi latices fusè erumperent. Stillam vivi fontis deinde palmâ excepit, quam inter ilia manum tendens, cunno dormientis conjugis sedulò infricuit. Ista in somno murmuravit voluptate tepidâ, et – horribile dictu – notavi volvam statim novo fetu inflare sicut massa fermento infecta.

Sed hic post me audivi vocem velut vertex aquæ proclamantem:

 VÆ TIBI O FETVVM FETOR : O PRINCEPS MERIDIEI VÆ TIBI.

Quod dum effabatur, monstrum in paludem tamquam in mellis stagnum gradatim mersum est, donec corpus aqua mucida penitus celavit.

Contuli nunc oculos retrorsum feminamque spexi, et super caput galeatum septentriones in cælo nitentes. Quantum mollis præfata nutrix, eo austera hæc matrona, cujus corpus candida stola omnino involutum. Flavi capilli tam stricte tonsi erant, ut facies pueri pæne videretur. Dextera hastam, lævâ manu librum calamumque portabat. 

Confestim quæ esset noram, et humi me prosternens ‘regnet’ clamavi inter lacrimas ‘domina mea Pallas virgo in æternum’.

At illa ‘sile,’ inquit, ‘et solidus esto.’
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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Horace III.2

Boys should be taught to suffer strict poverty
Cheerfully. And in strife on the battlefield
     They should be apt with spears on horseback,
          So that the Saracens gawk in terror.

And they should live their lives in the frigid air,
Girt round with danger. O let the Paynim’s wife
     Standing atop the walls and gazing
          Down at the spouse of her blooming daughter

Gasp, and say ‘dear son, touch not that godlike man,
For you are still unused to a deadly fight;
     He is a lion, and his bloody
          Furor propels him upon the slaughter.’

Seemly and sweet is death for your fatherland,
And if you flee it, still death will follow you,
     Yea, death will rot a shirker’s body,
          Though of a day he hold back from battle.

Virtue, who knows no cowardly shuddering
Blazes with stainless honours. The people cry:
     Take up the fasces! Or release them!
          But she is deaf to the vulgar tumult.

Virtue, who opens heaven to worthy souls,
Goes along highways barred to the common-folk
     And on her wing she launches upward
          Fleeing the earth and its humid soil.

Faithful discretion also deserves reward:
One who divulges mystical Ceres’ rites
     Will not be welcome at my table;
          Nor will he sail on my fragile vessel.

Traitor, beware! Though Jove in his jealous pride
Mixes the just with felons from time to time,
     Nonetheless Vengeance, though she staggers
          Rarely abandons a sly offender.

***

Angustam amicè pauperiem pati
Robustus acri militiâ puer
     Condiscat et Parthos ferocis
          Vexet eques metuendus hastâ

Vitamque sub divo et trepidis agat
In rebus. Illum ex mœnibus hosticis
     Matrona bellantis tyranni
          Prospiciens et adulta virgo

Suspiret, eheu, ne rudis agminum
Sponsus lacessat regius asperum
     Tactu leonem, quem cruenta
          Per medias rapit ira cædes.

Dulce et decorum est pro patriâ mori:
Mors et fugacem persequitur virum
     Nec parcit inbellis juventæ
          Poplitibus timidove tergo.

Virtus, repulsæ nescia sordidæ,
Intaminatis fulget honoribus
     Nec sumit aut ponit securis
          Arbitrio popularis auræ.

Virtus recludens inmeritis mori
Cælum negatâ temptat iter viâ
     Cœtusque volgaris et udam
          Spernit humum fugiente pennâ.

Est et fideli tuta silentio
Merces. Vetabo qui Cereris sacrum
     Volgarit arcanæ sub îsdem
          Sit trabibus fragilemque mecum

Solvat phaselon; saepe Diespiter
Neglectus incesto addidit integrum,
     Rarò antecedentem scelestum
          Deseruit pede pœna claudo.