Thoughts searching for the essence of everything.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ode 1.4

Solvitur acris hiems grata vice veris et Favoni,

trahuntque siccas machinae carinas.

ac neque iam stabulis gaudet pecus aut arator igni;

nec prata canis albicant pruinis.

iam Cytherea choros ducit Venus imminente luna,

iunctaeque Nymphis Gratiae decentes

alterno terram quatiunt pede, dum gravis Cyclopum

Vulcanus ardens urit officinas.

nunc decet aut viridi nitidum caput impedire myrto

aut flore, terrae quem ferunt solutae.

nunc et in umbrosis Fauno decet immolare lucis,

seu poscat agna sive malit haedo.

pallida Mors aequo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas

regnumque turris. o beate Sesti,

vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam;

iam te premet nox fabulaeque Manes

et domus exilis Plutonia; quo simul mearis,

nec regna vini sortiere talis

nec tenerum Lycidan mirabere, quo calet iuventus

nunc omnis et mox virgines tepebunt.



Translation by David West:
Harsh winter is melting away in the welcome change to spring and zephyrs,
winches are pulling down dry-bottomed ships,
the cattle no longer like the steading, the ploughman does not hug the fire,
and meadows are not white with the hoar-frost.
Venus of Cythera leads on the dance beneath a hanging moon,
and the lovely Graces, linking arms with Nymphs,
shake the ground with alternate feet, while burning Vulcan
visits the grim foundreis of the Cyclopes.
Now is the time to oil the hair and bind the head with green myrtle
or flowers born of the earth now freed from frost;
now too is the time to sacrifice to Faunus in shady groves
whether he asks a lamb of prefers a kid.
Pale death kicks with impartionl foot at the hobels of the poor
and the towers of kinks. O fotunate Sestius,
the brief sum of life does not allow us to start on long hopes.
You will soon be kept close by Night and the fabled shades
in Pluto's meagre house. When you go there
you will no longer cast lots to rule the wine,
nor admire tender Lycidas, whom all the young men
now burn for and for whom the girls will soon be warm.
I thought this poem was appropriate because it introduces its theme with the turning from the season of winter into spring. This is a typical Horacian poem in which the theme is "carpe diem." Horace is saying that now it is spring and now we are young and beautiful so we should enjoy this time for later we will be dead. After death you will not be able to enjoy yourself as you do on earth. Horace follows a Christian doctrine but not for Christian reasons. He says to enjoy yourselves and the world around you becuase it will not last forever. As a Christian I would enjoy myself and nature because they are gifts from God, but of course I see the fleetingness of physical beauty and try to enjoy them as long as possible. I try to take delight in the simple things as well as the grand.


Aquilifer said...

Very interesting poem, I will have to try the latin sometime soon. I have to wonder however how you can make your post in the future. Last time I checked it is still Sunday April 11, 2010, hmmm, did you perfect the flux capacitor?

TheHeatherOnTheMoors said...

The first couple of stanzas put me in mind of Narnia, and how C.S. Lewis is able to deftly blend Pagan/mythological creatures (e.g. tree nymphs, Bacchus, etc.) into a Christian theme and worldview. Because, as G.K. Chesterton says in Ballad of the White Horse, it is only the Christians that truly appreciate and preserve the beauty that can be found in pagan things. True, they did not have the truth, but love of beauty is inherent in human nature, and thus, beauty can (and does) exist in some pagan things.

Penelope said...

Yes I agree entirely with what you are saying. And I believe it's part of the fuolfillment of your human nature to be able to enjoy real beauty.

Penelope said...

Oh and Aquilifer I'm not sure what you are talking about but I know that the time is messed up on my blog. The time zone is correct but I don't know what else could be causing it to be wrong.