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Horace: two translations

Two translations of Horace's ode iii.30, Exegi monumentum aere perennius:


Today I have finished a work outlasting bronze
And the pyramids of ancient royal kings.
The North Wind raging cannot scatter it
Nor can the rain obliterate this work.
Nor can the years, nor can the ages passing.
Some part of me will live and not be given
Over into the hands of the death goddess.
I will live on forever, kept ever young
By the praise in times to come for what I have done.
So long as the Pontiff in solemn procession climbs
The Capitol steps, beside him the reverent Vestal,
So long will it be that men will say that I,
Born in a land where Aufidus' torrent roared,
Once ruled by Danaus, king of a peasant people,
Was the first to bring Aeolian measures to Latin.
Melpomene, look kindly on the honor
The muse has won for me, and graciously
Place on my head the garland of Delphic laurel.

(trans. David Ferry)



This monument will outlast metal and I made it
More durable than the king's seat, higher than pyramids.
Gnaw of wind and rain?
                           Impotent
The flow of years to break it, however many.

Bits of me, many bits, will dodge all funeral,
O Libitina-Persephone and, after that,
Sprout new praise. As long as
Pontifex and the quiet girl pace the Capitol
I shall be spoken where the wild flood Aufidus
Lashes, and Danus ruled the parched farmland:

Power from lowliness: "First brought Aeolic song to Italian fashion"—
Wear pride, work's gain! O Muse Melpomene,
By your will bind the laurel.
                   My hair. Delphic laurel.


(trans. Ezra Pound)

May 26, 2003 in Poems | Permalink