Saturday, March 19, 2011

The snows have scattered

It's almost a Spring day here in London, sun, birds chirping and shopping at Sainsbury's. So here is an attempt at translating Horace's poem (IV.7) on the transience of human life and ambition. I have tried to preserve the word order as far as possible, so I don't know whether it makes much sense.

There is another (very non-literal) translation here. Another set of translations here.

1 Diffugere nives, redeunt iam gramina campis
Arboribusque comae;
Mutat terra vices et decrescentia ripas
Flumina praetereunt;
The snows have scattered, and back comes grass to fields
And leaves to trees.
Earth changes seasons, and declining [between their] banks
Rivers flow.
5 Gratia cum Nymphis geminisque sororibus audet
Ducere nuda choros.
Immortalia ne speres, monet annus et almum
Quae rapit hora diem.
The Grace with the Nymphs and her twin sisters dares
To lead, naked, the dance.
Lest you hope for immortal things, the year warns you, and the hour,
That hurries away the kindly day.
Frigora mitescunt Zephyris, ver proterit aestas
10 Interitura, simul
Pomifer autumnus fruges effuderit, et mox
Bruma recurrit iners.
Frosts grow mild in the western winds; Summer tramples Spring,
Who will herself perish once
Fruitful Autumn has poured out fruit; and soon
Fruitless Winter returns.
Damna tamen celeres reparant caelestia lunae ;
Nos ubi decidimus,
15 Quo pater Aeneas, quo dives Tullus et Ancus,
Pulvis et umbra sumus.
Yet the moons are fast to make good their heavenly losses;
We, when we have fallen to
Where good Aeneas and wealthy Tullus, and Ancus [have]
Are dust and shadow.
Quis scit an adiciant hodiernae crastina summae
Tempora di superi ?
Cuncta manus avidas fugient heredis, amico
20 Quae dederis animo.
Who knows whether [they] will add to the sum of to-day,to-morrow's
Time - the gods above?
All will escape the greedy hands of your heir,
Which you gave to your dear soul.
Cum semel occideris et de te splendida Minos
Fecerit arbitria,
Non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te
Restituet pietas.
But when once you have fallen, and on you Minos
Has made majestic judgment,
Neither, Torquatus, shall family or eloquence
Or loyalty restore you.
25 Infernis neque enim tenebris Diana pudicum
Liberat Hippolytum,
Nec Lethaea valet Theseus abrumpere caro
Vincula Pirithoo.
For neither from the shadows below does Diana virtuous
Hippolytus set free;
Nor can Theseus break Lethe's
Chains from [his dear] Pirithous

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