Friday, February 20, 2015

Shadow and Dust

Horace IV.vii

Snow runs off from the ground as the grass comes back to the meadows,
          And the soft buds to the trees:
Young Earth softens her face, and the streams grow swollen with water,
          Flowing up over their banks.

Grace now dares to dance naked with nymphs and with her twin sisters,
          Leading the choirs in song.
“All that thou lovest will fade”, warn the years and the merciless hours,
          Hours that snatch our sweet days.
Winter’s cold will be pierced by the spring breeze, spring by the summer—
          Summer, who dies just the same;
Then rich fall pours out apples and dies in turn in a moment,
          Followed by desolate cold.

Yea, though the wrecks of the skies are forever mended by swift moons,
          We must all fall to the Earth,
Where, like pious Aeneas, wealthy Tullus and Ancus,
          We shall be shadow and dust.

Who knows whether the gods in the skies will give us tomorrow,
          Adding a day to our days?
But what you give to your own dear soul is yours for the keeping,
          Safe from your greedy heir’s hands.

When, my splendid Torquatus, you fall into nothing and Minos
          Passes his judgment on you,
Neither will family, nor your mind’s brilliance, nor your uprightness
          Pull you back up to the light.

Pure Hippolytus languished below, alone in the dark and
          Lost to Diana forever;
Nor could Theseus tear his Perithous out of death’s shackles,
          Though he had loved his dear friend.

Diffugêre nives, redeunt jam gramina campis
          Arboribusque comæ;
Mutat terra vices et decrescentia ripas
          Flumina prætereunt;

Gratia cum Nymphis geminisque sororibus audet

          Ducere nuda choros:
Inmortalia ne speres, monet annus et almum
          Quæ rapit hora diem.

Frigora mitescunt Zephyris, ver proterit æstas

          Interitura, simul
Pomifer autumnus fruges effuderit, et mox
          Bruma recurrit iners.

Damna tamen celeres reparant cælestia Lunæ:

          Nos ubi decidimus
Quo pius Æneas, quo Tullus dives et Ancus,
          Pulvis et umbra sumus.

Quis scit an adjiciant hodiernæ crastina summæ

          Tempora Dî superi?
Cuncta manus avidas fugient heredis amico
          Quæ dederis animo.

Cum semel occideris et de te, splendide, Minos

          Fecerit arbitria,
Non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te
          Restituet pietas;

Infernis neque enim tenebris Diana pudicum

          Liberat Hippolytum
Nec Lethæa valet Theseus abrumpere caro
          Vincula Perithoo.

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