Now think: each minute, hour, day we spend
Together docks these from that finite sum
Allotted us, like many drafts portend
How swiftly drained will Omar’s jug become.
For you and me – alone just half complete
Together, fused as one, our destined whole -
Each trice of shared delight speeds us to meet
‘Till Death us do part,’ shattering the sole
Surviving, so abandoned half to spend
Alone each tedious minute, hour, day -
All golden wine-and-roses times must end.
Then think: since when that is for us, we cannot say,
Let’s seize the now - good times can still
Enjoy the us before that jug is drained.
In which cool, shaded nook, under what spreading
Smiles my Julia now, luring with parted knees
Some young innocent's love thrust,
Sate for easily summoned lust?
Gold hair, sparked by the sun, groomed for his eager
Gold hair, fingered with love - God! how I miss those days!
Life then gleamed like a glass lake,
Giving joy more than I could take.
Ingenue, once I was you, eager and new to love;
Willing and free, only with me would she return the shove -
I thought, then came her bitch side:
Poor wretch, whom she excites, untried.
Old man, what's the allure? What holds your gaze so
Lost youth? Wild, rutting love? Julia's siren song?
Be glad! Rescued on dry ground,
Why start gloating when others flound?
loosely from Horace I, v - “Quis multas gracilis;”
approximating his meter, the Third Asclepiad;
(# 4 - 4/68: 2/80 +).
Horace, I, v
(Old Man’s Lament)
Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
Perfusus liquidis urget odoribus
Grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?
Cui flavam religas comam,
Simplex munditiis? Heu quotiens fidem 5
Mutatosque deos flebit et aspera
Nigris aequora ventis
Qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,
Qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem 10
Sperat, nescius aurae
Fallacis. Miseri, quibus
Intentata nites. Me tabula sacer
Votiva paries indicat uvida
Suspendisse potenti 15
Vestimenta maris deo.
(In loving memory of my step-grandmother,
Genevieve Gifford Richardson,
who would chant this poem on the way
to the beach, in Latin).
Oh Bandusian spring! glistering more than glass
and deserving our fresh flowers and gifts of wine:
one day soon you'll be offered
a boy goat as our sacrifice
Who sports new little horns eager for war and love
in vain - then will this first-born of that lustful herd
die and darken your clear cool
crystal pools with his ruby blood.
You the blazingly fierce heat of the August sun
does not know how to touch: lovingly, you extend
your wet coolness to weary
ox and wandering flocks to drink.
And too, you I shall make famous as any spring
by describing how dense thickets of shrub oak ring
moss-lined rocks where, cascading
down, you – gleaming! - gush forth and sing.
- translated from Horace III, xiii - “O fons
approximating his meter, the Third Asclepiad;
(# 28 - 7/78: 9/84, 9/99 +).
Horace III, xiii
(O Fons Bandusiae)
O fons Bandusiae, splendidior vitro,
Dulci digne mero non sine floribus,
Cras donaberis haedo,
Cui frons turgida cornibus
Primis et venerem et proelia
Frustra: nam gelidos inficiet tibi
Rubro sanguine rivos,
Lascivi suboles gregis.
Te flagrantis atrox hora Caniculae
Nescit tangere, tu frigus amabile 10
Fessis vomere tauris
Praebes et pecori vago.
Fies nobilium tu quoque fontium,
Me dicente cavis impositam ilicem
Saxis unde loquaces 15
Lymphae desiliunt tuae.
Let's live together, Kate, and love, love,
and let's resolve right now to count our neigh-
bors’ sputterings not worth their nosey breath.
Though suns can set and next day rise
our own brief flicker, once it fades, knows on-
ly one long endless night, slept through alone.
Therefore, before that loveless gloom,
together so that any time we wish
we'll kiss, and kiss some more, and kiss again,
and kiss, kiss, kiss to make it ten, and
a hundred, and a thousand, and again
a hundred thousand, and again times ten,
then like before, still more to mix up the
score, so those jealous spies can’t fly their e-
vil eyes upon our sweet and easy love!
- from Catullus v - “Vivamus, mea Lesbia”,
Viuamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus,
rumoresque senum seueriorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis.
soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit breuis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
da mi basia mille, deinde centum,
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus,
aut ne quis malus inuidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.
He, to me, seems truly a god among men;
he, if not glib blasphemy, betters one, who
sitting right near by, stays so calm and sane when,
time and again, you
sweetly laugh. Me, I'd be distraught: just
glimpse of you wreaks havoc in me: my knees grow
weak, my ears start ringing, all sights but you blur.
Then, when you’re near, my
insides leap, strange tinglings afflict my
moisten, non-stop swallowings drown my well-worked
speech, I scheme new ways to connect but can’t till,
hopeful, confused, un-
done, I just stare, helplessly there. And
gone, I'm still crazed: ease breeds my soul's disease as
thoughts of you seen - hoped to be seen! - obsess me,
desperate to love you.
- loosely from Sappho -“Φαίνεταί μοι
and Catullus li - Ille me par esse deo”,
approximating the latter’s Lesser Sapphic meter
Sappho, Fragment 2
Φαίνεταί μοι κήνος ἴσος θέοισιν
ἔμμεν ὤνηρ, ὄστις ἐναντίος τοι
ἰζάνει, καὶ πλυσίον ἆδυ φωνεύ-
καὶ γελαίσας ἰμερόεν, τό μοι μάν
καρδίαν ἐν στήθεσιν ἐπτόασεν·
ὡς γὰρ εὔιδον βροχέως σε, φώνας
οὺδὲν ἔτ' εἴκει·
ἀλλὰ κὰμ μὲν γλῶσσα ἔαγε, λέπτον
δ'αὔτικα χρῷ πῦρ ὐπαδεδρόμακεν,
ὀππάτεσσι δ' οὐδὲν ὄρημ', ἐπιρρόμ-
βεισι δ' ἄκουαι.
ἀ δέ μίδρως κακχέεται, τρόμος δέ
παῖσαν ἄγρει, χλωροτέρα δὲ ποίας
ἔμμι, τεθνάκην δ' ὀλίγω 'πιδεύης
ἀλλὰ πᾶν τόλματον, [ἐπεὶ καὶ πένητα].
* from the collection Classical
Thoughts In Current Words