Sunday, January 18, 2015

Winter Poems

1. A palindrome

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

Those who roam in circles through night and die in a fire
“moths” were called by the Church; human beings by us.


Auck! said the flitting wings in the gray sky, crossing the gray lake;
clouds hid the sun in their folds, wind swept the snow on the ice.
Silence is haunting peace when Earth’s soul lives in the country;
Godless she is just the wind, empty and cutting and dead.

3. On a tombstone

Wayfarer, why do you wistfully sigh and say death is natural?
Natural it is, but the dogs naturally chewed on my eyes.


Now that the lights are stripped from the trees, dead night has the kingdom:
hearthlight has faded to ash, snowfall to steely-gray ice. 
But—I tell you a mystery—glad king Pan merely slumbers;
soon his pink cherries will bloom, swaying in sweet and warm air.

Translation of Horace I.9

See how the lofty frost-covered mountain gleams,
buried in deep snow; see how the snow-filled woods
creak with their burden, how the rivers
stand at a halt as they turn to hard ice.

Spear though the cold! heap logs on the blazing hearth!
And, Thaliarchus, if you’ll be kinder still,
Pour out the wine that’s braved the winters,
pour the pure wine from the two-eared bottle.

And leave the rest to gods who do not taste death—
They’ll throw their savage winds on the tossing sea!
If they might only spare the cypress
and the old ash trees that clothe the hilltops.

Don’t even try to know what tomorrow brings;
squeeze joy from each day Fortune gives up to you.
Don’t flee the loveliness of sweet love,
Nor, my good youth, from the wheeling dances.

Just for now sad gray age keeps himself away
from your green vigor. Yours is the stadium!
Yours is the racetrack, and the whispers
uttered at night at a secret meeting.

Yours is the laugh that gives up a hiding girl,
sweetly cascading out of a secret room:
you’ll pull a bracelet off her forearm
or from her barely resisting finger.
Vides ut alta stet nive candidum
Soracte nec iam sustineant onus
silvæ laborantes, geluque
flumina constiterint acuto.

dissolve frigus ligna super foco
large reponens atque benignius
deprome quadrimum Sabina
o Thaliarche, merum diota:

permitte divis cetera, qui simul
stravere ventos aequore fervido
deproeliantis, nec cupressi
nec veteres agitantur orni.

quid sit futurum cras fuge quærere et
quem Fors dierum cumque dabit lucro
appone, nec dulcis amores
sperne puer neque tu choreas,

donec virenti canities abest
morosa. nunc et campus et areæ
lenesque sub noctem susurri
composita repetantur hora,

nunc et latentis proditor intimo
gratus puellæ risus ab angulo
pignusque dereptum lacertis
aut digito male pertinaci.

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