Jul. 16th, 2016 08:03 am
wildestranger: (Default)
Hello friends!

I am moving cities today - from London to the seaside to start a new job. The job sounds promising, the city has potential, but unfortunately I won't have internet for the next three weeks. I do have twitter on my phone, so you can reach me there if there is something you feel I ought to be aware of, and I expect I will be taking my iPad to a few internet cafes in the next week, for tumblr and fic purposes.

See you in three weeks! Let's hope there is still a world to come back to.
wildestranger: (green wine)
Eeva Kilpi, ‘Tell me immediately if I'm disturbing you’.

Sano heti jos minä häiritsen,
hän sanoi astuessaan ovesta sisään,
niin minä lähden saman tien pois.

Sinä et ainoastaan häiritse,
minä vastasin,
sinä järkytät koko minun olemustani.

Tell me immediately if I'm disturbing you,
He said, coming in the door,
And I will leave right away.

You not only disturb,
I answered,
You shake my whole being.
wildestranger: (green wine)
Marko Vešović, ‘A Deathless Moment’

Na prijelazu uličnom dejstvuje snajperist.
Dvije djevojke, zadihane od pretrčavanja.
Iz njih bije vrelina, mirisna, kao iz rublja
svilenog, koje se pegla. U jedne nije frizura
već naježeno božićno žito. Praska, bjesni i psuje
snajperiste: pričinja mi se da kroz prozor
krasnu oluju gledam!
U druge, riječi prijatne
ko lepet suncobrana, izjutra, na plaži budvanskoj.
Trzajem, povremeno, zabaci kosu. Zbog nas!
Jer zna: kad god je zabaci, duga će kosa da zamiriše.
Ljepotica. Ali od onih koje nikad ne propuste
da ti se nasmiješe. I raskošno i škrto.
Dovoljno raskošno da bi te usrećile. Dovoljno škrto
da njih ne košta ništa. Smiješak njihov ti javlja
da za njih nisi stvar među stvarima.
Možda čak da bi htjele sa tebe skinuti čini
ako te leden pogled ženski već u stvar pretvorio.
U zraku snažno zamirisa na moju davnu mladost
kad je svaka aleja vodila do na kraj svijeta.
Kad je duša umjela, čak i u pustinji,
raspjevati se ko žetelica.
Kad život još ne bješe otrcan ko poslovica.
Odoše, čavrljajući, a u meni ostavile su nježnost
kakva te obuzme kad dugo gledaš nebesa
u kojima se snježne pahulje roje.
Odoše. Ne dvije djevojke,
već dva vjetrića, pirnula iznenadno
kroz žegu opsade.
Ilinsku žegu postojanja.

A Deathless Moment

A sniper is working a street crossing.
Two girls, breathless from running across.
They radiate heat, perfumed, like silk
underwear being ironed. One of them doesn't have a hairdo,
but bristling wheat sprouts on her head. She's fuming, thundering,
and cursing at the sniper: I seem to be watching, like out of a window,
a glorious storm! The other's words are pleasant
like the fluttering of an umbrella, in the morning, at the Budva beach.
She tosses her head from time to time. For our sake!
For she knows: with each toss, her long hair will smell sweetly.
A beauty. But one of those who never
fail to smile at you. Both lavishly and stingily.
Lavishly enough to make you happy. Stingily enough
that it costs them nothing. Their smile
lets you know that for them you are not a thing among things.
They wish perhaps to break the spell put on you
by an icy female look that has turned you into a thing.
The air smelled sweetly of my youth of long ago
when every tree-lined lane led to the end of the world.
When life was not yet worn thin like a proverb.
They left, leaving in me the tenderness
that comes over you when you look long at the skies
swarming with snowflakes.
They went, chattering—not two girls, but two breezes, blowing suddenly
through scorching heat of the siege. Through the dog days of existence.
wildestranger: (green wine)
Today's poem is an angry feminist response to historical Icelandic poetry. You can find the context here:

Ingibjörg Haraldsdóttir ‘Woman’

Þegar allt hefur verið sagt
þegar vandamál heimsins eru
vegin metin og útkljáð
þegar augu hafa mæst
og hendur verið þrýstar
í alvöru augnabliksins
- kemur alltaf einhver kona
að taka af borðinu
sópa gólfið og opna gluggana
til að hleypa vindlareyknum út.
Það bregst ekki.

When all has been said
When the problems of the world
Have been weighed gauged and settled
When eyes have met
And hands been pressed
In the sobriety of the moment
–some woman always comes
To clear the table
Sweep the floor and open the windows
To let out the cigar smoke.
It never fails.
wildestranger: (green wine)
Sophia de Mello Breyner, 'We Will Rise'

Ressurgiremos ainda sob os muros de Cnossos
E em Delphos centro do mundo
Ressurgiremos ainda na dura luz de Creta

Ressurgiremos ali onde as palavras
São o nome das coisas
E onde são claros e vivos os contornos
Na aguda luz de Creta

Ressurgiremos ali onde pedra estrela e tempo
São o reino do homem
Ressurgiremos para olhar para a terra de frente
Na luz limpa de Creta

Pois convém tornar claro o coração do homem
E erguer a negra exactidão da cruz
Na luz branca de Creta

We will rise again beneath the walls of Knossos
And in Delphi the centre of the world
We will rise again in the harsh light of Crete

We will rise where words
Are the names of things
Where outlines are clear and vivid
There in the sharp light of Crete

We will rise where stone the stars and time
Are the kingdom of man
We will rise to stare straight at the earth
In the clear light of Crete

For it is good to clarify the heart of man
And to lift the black exactness of the cross
In the white light of Crete

Trans. by Richard Zenith
wildestranger: (green wine)
Keeping with minority languages, here is a poem in Frisian, one of the languages spoken in Belgium.

Tsjebbe Hettinga ‘Overseas and Farther’

In brief, in flecht, in kommen ûnder de golfplaten
Fan ús hutte yn in hôf fan oliven ferburgen,
Yn ’e middei op in eilân yn ’e weagen fan
In mediterrane archipel: alve dagen do
Waarm en ryp as de fruchten dêr’tst mei komst. Eagen dêr’tst
In man it swartst ljocht mei ferreagest hasto en eat fan
It Hollânsk fleanen om ’e mûle dat him deljout
As it hite kalkstof fan it paad dat dy brocht hat en
Yn himsels weromgiet mei de blauwe trekker út
It seedoarp wei, trekker, ûnderweis nei de see werom.

A letter, a flight, a getting together again
Under the corrugated roof of our cottage, hidden
In the cool noon of an olive grove on an island
Amid the waves of an Aegean archipelago:
Eleven days of you, warm and ripe as the fruit you
Brought with you; and while your eyes dispel a man’s darkest light,
The trace of urban haste around your mouth comes to rest
Like the hot chalky dust of the path that led you here, which
Keeps bumping into itself as the blue tractor from
The village by the sea winds its way back down to the shore.

You can find the rest of the poem here:
wildestranger: (green wine)
This is what you get when you google Catalan Poetry on St George's day - first result, ad it's wonderful!

Vicent Andrés Estellés, ‘Els Amants’

No hi havia a València dos amants com nosaltres.
Feroçment ens amàvem del matí a la nit.
Tot ho recorde mentre vas estenent la roba.
Han passat anys, molt anys; han passat moltes coses.
De sobte encara em pren aquell vent o l'amor
i rodolem per terra entre abraços i besos.
No comprenem l'amor com un costum amable,
com un costum pacífic de compliment i teles
(i que ens perdone el cast senyor López-Picó).
Es desperta, de sobte, com un vell huracà,
i ens tomba en terra els dos, ens ajunta, ens empeny.
Jo desitjava, a voltes, un amor educat
i en marxa el tocadiscos, negligentment besant-te,
ara un muscle i després el peço d'una orella.
El nostre amor es un amor brusc i salvatge
i tenim l'enyorança amarga dela terra,
d'anar a rebolcons entre besos i arraps.
Què voleu que hi faça! Elemental, ja ho sé.
Ignorem el Petrarca i ignorem moltes coses.
Les Estances de Riba i les Rimas de Bécquer.
Després, tombats en terra de qualsevol manera,
comprenem que som bàrbars, i que aixòno deu ser,
que no estem en l'edat, i tot això i allò.
No hi havia a València dos amants com nosaltres,
car d'amants com nosaltres en son parits ben pocs.

Never were there in València two lovers like us.
We loved ferociously, from morn 'til night.
I recall everything, as you hang out the clothes.
Years have passed, many years: many things have happened.
Suddenly that wind, or love, seizes me still
And we roll on the ground amidst embraces and kisses.
We do not know love as a loving custom,
As a quiet custom of politeness and finery
(and may the chaste López-Picó pardon us).
Love, It awakens suddenly, like an old hurricane,
it throws us to the ground, it joins us together,
squeezing us tightly.
Sometimes I desired a courteous love,
With the gramophone on, kissing you idly,
Now a shoulder, next an ear lobe.
Our love is a brusque and savage love
And we feel a bitter yearning for the earth,
Of rolling upside down amidst kisses and clutches.
I'll say it clear. Primal, ... I know it.
We ignore Petrarch's work, we ignore many things.
The stanzas of Riba, the rhymes of Bécquer.
Afterwards, lying somehow on the ground,
We realise that we are barbarous, that this may not be,
we are not in the right age, and this and that.
Never were there in València two lovers like us,
Lovers like us are just not born !

Trans. by Jack. H. Smith
wildestranger: (green wine)
Here is another one from François Villon, written supposedly in prison where he was tortured and kept in an oubliette. It is very 'supposedly' - the poem is our only evidence - but it is an interesting text regardless of its real-life context.

François Villon, ‘Epistre a ses amis’

Aiez pitié, aiez pitié de moy,
A tout le moins, si vous plaist, mes amis.
En fosse gis, non pas soubz houx ne may,
En cest exil ouquel je suis transmis
Par Fortunre, comme Dieu l’a permis.
Filles, amans, jeunes gens et nouveaulx,
Danceurs, saulteurs faisnas les piez de veaux,
Vifs comme dars, agus comme agillon,
Gousiers tintants cler comme cascaveaux,
Le lesseres la, le povre Villon?

Chantres chantans a plaisance sans loy,
Galans rians, plaisans en fais et dis,
Courens, alans, francs de faulx or, d’aloy,
Gens d’esperit – ung petit estourdis –
Trop demourez car il meurt entandis.
Faiseurs de laiz, de motetz et rondeaux,
Quant mort sera vous lui ferez chaudeaux.
Ou gist, il n’entre escler ne tourbillon.
De murs espoix on lui a fait bandeaux.
Le lesseres la, le povre Villon?

Venez le veoir en ce piteux arroy,
Nobles homes, francs de quart et de dix,
Qui ne tenez d’empereur ne de roy
Mais seulement de Dieu de Paradis.
Jeuner lui fault dimenches et merdis,
Dont les dens a plus longues que ratteaux.
Après pain sec, non pas après gasteaux,
En ses boyaulx verse eaue a gros bouillon.
Bas en terre, table n’a ne tresteaulx.
Le lesseres la, le povre Villon?

Princes nommez, ancïens, jouvenceaux,
Impetrez moy graces et royaulx seaux
Et me montez en quelque crobillon;
Ainsi le font, l’un a l’autre, pourceaux,
Car ou l’un brat ilz fyuent a monceaux.
Le lesseres la, le povre Villon?

Have some pity now, pity on me,
And, of all people, you my muckers – please.
Dungeoned and ditched, no holly, hawthorn tree
For shelter, in this exile where God agrees
In letting Fortune dump me on my knees.
My girls, you lovers, greenhorns, young or grey,
Dancers, tumblers, jigging the Antic Hey,
Quick as a dart and sharp as spurs, the pair,
With gullets clear as bells tinkling away.
Poor Villon, will you leave him lying there?

Singers of songs who choose the melody,
Laughing gallants whose words and doings please,
Love-hounds from alloy and false gold free,
You wits –a little dumbstruck – you seize
Up far too long; he dies by slow degrees.
Makers of motet, rondeau, song and lay,
When he is dead, you’ll bring the tonics tray.
He lies where whirlwind, lightnings never fare.
Thick walls blindfold his eyes from light of day;
Poor Villon, will you leave him lying there?

His dreadful state you ought to come and see,
Spiritual lords, exempt from tithe, tax-fees,
Who pay no heed to emperor or majesty
And but to God of Paradise bend knees,
He fasts now Sundays, Tuesdays too, no sprees,
His teeth are longer than a rake’s for hay.
After dry bread, not after cakes, no way,
He fills his guts with water, gallons, where,
Deep down, is bed nor chair for him today.
Poor Villon, will you leave him lying there?

Princes here addressed, the young and grey,
Make royal seal and pardon come my way.
And raise me in a basket to fresh air.
The swine will do as much, as I’ve heard say,
For, if one squeals, the rest rush for the stray.
Poor Villon, will you leave him lying there?

Trans. by Peter Dale
wildestranger: (green wine)
Today you get my favourite Spaniard, Federico Garcia Lorca, who was piteously murdered by General Franco's men in 1936, apparently for having the wrong family connections, being friends with republicans, and being unashamedly gay.

This is something that continues to make me very angry. He was 38 years old.

Federico Garcia Lorca, Ay voz del amor oscuro

¡Ay voz secreta del amor oscuro!
¡ay balido sin lanas! ¡ay herida!
¡ay aguja de hiel, camellia hundida!
¡ay corrida sin mar, ciudad sin muro!

¡Ay noceh inmensa de perfil seguro,
montaña celestial de angustia erguida!
¡ay perro en corazón, voz perseguida!
¡silencio sin confín, lirio maduro!

Huye de mí, caliente voz de hielo,
no me quieras perder en la maleza
donde sin fruto gimen carne y cielo.

Dejo el duro mafil de mi cabeza,
apiádate de mí, ¡rompe mi duelo!
¡que soy amor, que soy naturaleza!
wildestranger: (green wine)
Eugénio de Andrade, ‘Counterpoint’

Oiço-a ainda longe, a neve.
Vai chegar um dia com a luz de novembro,
antes passará pelos teus lábios.
E serás condescendente,
a ponto de lhe indicares o cominho
mais longo,
o que leva ao bosque onde
te peguei na mão
sem coragem para a levar à boca.
A neve tem esse lado acolhedor
de farol no escuro.
Antes de nos soterrar o coração.

I hear it still far off, the snow.
It will come one day with the light of November,
but first it will have passed through your lips.
And you will be kind enough
to indicate to it
the longest way,
that which leads to the woods where
I took your hand
without the courage to lift it to my mouth.
Snow has that comforting feel
of a lighthouse in the dark.
Before it buries our heart.

Trans. by Alexis Levitin
wildestranger: (green wine)
Today I have for you a different Latin poet; Catullus, best known for some delightfully scurrilous verse. This poem is not one of those, but rather one about the perils of friendship. Specifically, when your friend sends you some truly terrible poetry, and you want to make sure that he never does that again while also not offending your friend. Well, Catullus is not too bothered about the latter, but he is really keen on the former. I do like a good insulter.

Catullus, XIV

Ni te plus oculis meis amarem,
iucundissime Cave, munere isto
odissem te odio Vatiniano.
nam quid feci ego quidue sum locutus
cur me tot male perderes poetis?
isti Di mala multa dent clienti
qui tantum tibi misit impiorum.
quod si, ut suspicor, hoc novum ac repertum
munus dat tibi Sulla litterator,
non est mi male sed bene ac beate
quod non dispereunt tui labores.
di magni, horribilem et sacrum libellum!
quem tu scilicet ad tuum Catullum
misti continue ut die periret
Saturnalibus, optimo dierum!
non, non hoc tibi, salse, sic abibit.
nam si luxerit, ad librariorum
curram scrinia; Caesios, Aquinos,
Suffenum, omnia colligam venena,
ac te his suppliciis remunerabor.
vos hinc interea valete abite
illuc unde malum pedem attulistis,
saecli incommoda, pessimi poetae.

Did I not love you more than my eyes,
Calvus you joker, then for that gift
I’d hate you with Vatinian hatred.
What have I done to you or said
That you should pip me with all these poets?
May Gods bring curses on the client
Who sent you such profanities.
And if, as I suspect, this choice new
Gift to you is from schoolmaster Sulla,
Then I’m not sorry but delighted
That your hard work has not been wasted.
Great Gods, a damned awful little book
For you to send to your Catullus
To kill him outright on that day
Of all days best – the Saturnalia.
No, you won’t get away with it,
Clever dick. When it’s dawn I’ll run
To the bookstalls, pick up all the poison –
Suffenus, Caesius and Aquinus –
And pay you back with pains like them.
Meanwhile goodbye, be off with you,
Back where you brought your faulty feet from,
Curse of our time, appalling poets!

Trans. by Guy Lee
wildestranger: (green wine)
I remember buying this book about ten years ago fter reading a fic where Draco read Rilke to Harry (by sheafrotherdon?), and being exhilarated and confused by the words. Rereading them now produces pretty much the same reaction, but at least I can understand some of the German.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus 3

Ein Gott vermags. Wie aber, sag mir, soll
ein Mann ihm folgen durch die schmale Leier?
Sein Sinn ist Zwiespalt. An der Kreuzung zweier
Herzwege steht kein Tempel für Apoll.

Gesang, wie du ihn lehrst, ist nicht Begehr,
nicht Werbung um ein endlich noch Erreichtes;
Gesang ist Dasein. Für den Gott ein Leichters.
Wann aber sind wir? Und wann wendet er

an unser Sein die Erde und die Sterne?
Dies ists nicht, Jüngling, dass du libst, wenn auch
die Stimme dann den Mund dir aufstösst, - lerne

vergessen dass du aufsangst. Das verrint.
In Wahrheit singen, ist ein andrer Hauch.
Ein Hauch um nichts. Ein When im Gott. Ein Wind.

A god can do it. But how, tell me, shall
a man follow him through the narrow lyre?
His mind is cleavage. At the crossing of two
heartways stands no temple for Apollo.

Song, as you teach it, is not desire,
not suing for something yet in the end attained;
song is existence. Easy for the god.
But when do we exist? And when does he

spend the earth and stars upon our being?
Youth, this is not it, your loving, even
if then your voice thrusts your mouth open, - learn

to forget your sudden song. That will run out.
Real singing is a different breath,
A breath for nothing. A wafting in the god. A wind.

Trans. by M. D. Herter Norton.
wildestranger: (green wine)
Pablo Neruda, ‘Drunk with Pines’

Ebrio de trementina y largos besos,
estival, el velero de las rosas dirijo,
torcido hacia de la muerte del delgado día,
cimentado en el sólido frenesí marino.

Pálido y amarrado a mi agua devorante
cruzo en el agrio olor del clima descubierto,
aún vestido de gris y sonidos amargos,
y una cimera triste de abandonada espuma.

Voy, duro de pasiones, montado en mi ola única,
lunar, solar, ardiente y frío, repentino,
dormido en la garganta de las afortunadas
islas blancas y ducles como caderas frescas.

Tiembla en la noche húmeda mi vestido de besos
locamente cargado de eléctricas gestiones,
de modo heroico dividido en sueños
y embriagadoras roses practicándose en mí.

Aguas arriba, en medio de las olas externas,
tu paralelo cuerpo se sujeta en mis brazos
como un pez infinitamente pegado a mi alma
rápido y lento en la energía subceleste.

Drunk with pines and long kisses,
like summer I steer the fast sail of the roses,
bent towards the death of the thin day,
stuck into my solid marine madness.

Pale and lashed to my ravenous water,
I cruise in the sour smell of the naked climate,
still dressed in grey and bitter sounds
and a sad crest of abandoned spray.

Hardened by passions, I go mounted on my one wave,
lunar, solar, burning and cold, all at once,
becalmed in the throat of fortunate isles
that are white and sweet as cool hips.

In the moist night my garment of kisses trembles
charged to insanity with electric currents,
heroically divided into dreams
and intoxicating roses practising on me.

Upstream, in the midst of outer waves,
your parallel body yields to my arms
like a fish infinitely fastened to my soul,
quick and slow, in the energy under the sky.

Trans. by W. S. Merwin
wildestranger: (green wine)
Here's another Greek poet, Ibycus from sixth-century Rhegium (South Italy), famous for amorous verses about boys.

Ibycus, fragment 287 PMG

Eros, melting me once more with his gaze
From under dark lids,
With all manner of charms throws me again
Into the boundless nets of the Love Goddess.
I tremble at him as he comes,
Like an old prize horse who knows the yoke
And unwilling goes into the swift chariot race
One more time.
wildestranger: (green wine)
Fernando Pessoa is my favourite Portuguese poet, and one of the exciting things about him is that he wrote through heteronyms, invented characters with their own personalities and biographies. This one is by Alvaro de Campos, a naval engineer who studied in Scotland.

Alvaro de Campos (Fernando Pessoa)

Uma vontade física de comer o universo
Toma às vezes o lugar do meu pensamento…
Uma fúria desmedida
A conquistar a posse como que abservedora
Dos cues e das estrelas
Persegue-me como um remorse de não ter cometido um crime.

A physical urge to eat the universe
Sometimes takes the place of my thought.
A boundless rage
Craving to possess, as if by absorption,
All the skies and star
Hounds me like a regret for a crime not committed.
wildestranger: (green wine)
Today I have for your a Turkish communist poet, Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963). He spent thirteen years in prison for political crimes, and the text below is part of a series of poems he wrote for his wife during that time. Unfortunately I've been unable to find a Turkish text to go with the English translation.

Nazim Hikmet, ‘5th October 1945’.

We both know, my love,
they taught us:
how to be hungry, cold,
tired to death,
and apart.

We haven’t been forced to kill yet
or to go through the business of being killed.

We both know, my love,
we can teach:
how to fight for our people
and how – a little better
and deeper each day –
to love

Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk
wildestranger: (green wine)
Yesterday was the birthday of Charles Baudelaire. Here's a poem he wrote about cats.

Charles Baudelaire, ‘Les chats’

Les amoureux fervents et les savants austères
Aiment également, dans leur mûre saison,
Les chats puissants et doux, orgueil de la maison,
Qui comme eux sont frileux et comme eux sédentaires.

Amis de la science et de la volupté,
Ils cherchent le silence et l’horreur des ténèbres;
L’Érebe les eût pris pour ses couriers funèbres,
S’ils pouvaient au servage incliner leur fierté.

Ils prennent en songeant les nobles attitudes
Des grands sphinx allongés au fond des solitudes,
Qui semblent s’endormir dans un rêve sans fin;

Leurs reins féconds sont plein d’étincelles magiques,
Et des parcelles d’or, ainsi qu’un sable fin,
Étoilent vaguement leurs prunelles mystiques.
wildestranger: (green wine)
It gets better! One year later, Horace has a party in honour of how much he hates that one tree.

I love Roman poets.

Horace, ‘A happy anniversary’

Martiis caelebs quid agam Kalendis
quid velint flores et acreaa turis
plena miraris positusque carbo in
caespite vivo,

docte sermons utriusque linguae?
voveram dulcis epulas et album
Libero caprum prope funeratus
Arboris ictu.

hic dies anno redeunte festus
corticem adstrictum pice dimovebit
amphorae fumum bibere institutae
consule Tullo.

sume, Maecenas, cyathos amici
sospitis centum et vigils lucernas
perfer in lucem: procul omnis esto
clamor et ira.

mitte civilis super urbe curas;
occidit Daci Cotisonis agmen,
Medus infestus sibi luctuosis
dissidet armis,

servit Hispanae vetus hostis orae
Cantaber sera domitus catena,
iam Scythae laxo meditantur arcu
cedere campis.

neglegens ne qua populus laboret
parce privatus nimium cavere,
dona praesentis cape laetus horae et
linque severa.

What is a bachelor like myself doing on the first of March? What do the flowers mean, and the casket full of incense, and the charcoal laid on the alter of fresh-cut turf? Are you, learned as you are in the discourses of both languages, wondering about this? Well, I vowed to the god of Freedom a delicious meal, including a white goat, on the occasion when I was almost sent to my grave by the blow of a tree. As the year comes round, this festal day will remove the cork, with its seal of pitch, from a jar that was first taught to drink the smoke in Tullus’ consulship.

So quaff a hundred ladles, Maecenas, in honour of your friend’s escape, and keep the lamp burning until daylight. Away with all shouting and quarrelling. Cast aside your worries for the capital and its citizens. The Dacian Cotiso’s army has fallen, our enemy, the Medes, are torn apart by a war that brings grief only to themselves. The Cantabrian, our ancient foe from the coast of Spain, is our slave, tamed and in fetters at long last; now the Scythians have unstrung their bows and prepare to withdraw from their plains. Don’t worry in case the people are in any trouble; you are a private citizen, so try not to be over-anxious; gladly accept the gifts of the present hour, and let serious things go hang.

Trans. by Niall Rudd
wildestranger: (green wine)
Having been unable to post for a few days because of Secret Reasons, I'm going to provide two poems today, both by the same poet. Horace, a Roman poet known for his elegance of style and decorous thoughts, has also a few poems which demonstrate petty vindictiveness, and they are a hoot. This one is about a tree that fell on his head, and how much he really hates that tree.

He hates that tree a lot.

Horace, ‘A narrow escape from death’

ille et nefasto te posuit die
quicumque primum, et sacrilega manu
produxit, arbos, in nepotum
perniciem opprobriumque pagi;

illum et parentis crediderim sui
fregisse cervicem et penetralia
sparsisse nocturno cruore
hospitis; ille venena Colcha

et quidquid usquam concipitur nefas
tractavit, agro qui statuit meo
te triste lignum, te caducum
in domini caput immerentis.

qui quisque vitet numquam homini satis
cautum est in horas: navita Bosphorum
Poenus perhorrescit neque ultra
caeca timet aliunde fata;

miles sagittas et celerem fugam
Parthi, catenas Parthus et Italum
robur; sed improvisa leti
vis rapuit rapietque gentis.

quam paene furvae regan Proserpinae
et iudicante, vidimus Aeacum
sedesque discriptas piorum et
Aeoliis fidibus querentum

Sappho puellis de popularibus,
et te sonantem plenius aureo,
Alcaee, plectro dura navis,
dura fugae mala, dura belli!

utrumque sacro digna silentio
mirantur umbrae dicere; sed magis
pugnas et exactos tyrannos
densum umeris bibit aure vulgus.

quid mirum, ubi illis carminibus stupens
demittit atras belua centiceps
auris et intorti capillis
Eumenidum recreantur angues?

qquin et Prometheus et Pelopis parens
dulci laborem decipitur sono,
nec curat Orion leones
aut timidos agitare lyncas.

Whoever it was that planted you in the first place did so on an evil day, and with an unholy hand he raised you, Tree, to bring harm to his descendants and disgrace to the district. I could believe that he strangled his father and spattered the inmost shrine at dead of night with the blood of a guest; he dabbled in Colchian poisons and every enormity conceived throughout the world, that wretch who set you up on my estate, you damned piece of lumber, yes you, to fall down on your innocent owner’s head.

A man can never take sufficient precautions from our to hour against what he should avoid. The Punic sailor trembles at the Bosphorus, and, beyond that, does not expect an unseen death from any other quarter. The soldier dreads the Parthians’ arrows and their quick retreat; the Parthian fears Italy’s chains and dungeon; but it is the unexpected death blow that has carried off, and will continue to carry off, the tribes of men.

How close I came to seeing the kingdom of dusky Proserpine, Aecus sitting in judgement, and, set apart, the abodes of the righteous, and Sappho complaining on her Aeolian strings about the girls of her city, and you, Alcaeus, with your golden plectrum singing in more resonant tones about the harshness of life at sea, the bitter harshness of exile, the harshness of war! The ghosts marvel at both as they sing of things that demand a reverent silence; but the crowd, packed shoulder to shoulder, drink in more eagerly with their ears tales of battles and banished tyrants. What wonder, when, entranced by those songs, the hundred-headed beast relaxes his black ears, and the snakes entwined in the Furies’ hair sink to rest? Why, even Prometheus and Pelops’ father are beguiled of their pain by the pleasant sound, and Orion has no interest in hunting lions or timid lynxes.


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