Horace – 5

[Allen continues with his review of his classroom anthology]

AG: And the Sapphic Catullan form was picked up by, as we have in here (in this xerox anthology),  Sir Walter) Raleigh and (Sir Philip) Sidney. So, if you continue turning (the pages of the anthology), you’ll get up to Raleigh. (If you can find that, it’s about three-quarters of the way – okay, let’s find the Raleigh first, then we can pay undivided attention) – about two-thirds down – It was called the perfect Sapphic! … here was are – the perfect Sapphic in English) – about two-thirds of the way down, at the bottom…

Student: Did you read this, Monday?
AG: What?
Student: Did you read this, Monday?
AG: Yes, I read it . I just want to get us.. you know, get us all on the same set of papers. Got it?  Now you want to.. When you’re all settled, we can do that…ok.. shoot.. now which one is that and what’s it called?
Student: Ode Five. Book One.
AG: Aha!

Student:  (reads the entire poem (of Horace – (Book I – Ode V)) in James Michie’s translation)

“What slim youngster, his hair dripping with fragrant oil/ makes hot love to you now, Pyrrha, ensconced in a/ snug cave curtained with roses?/Who lays claim to that casually/ Chic blond hair in a braid? Soon he’ll be scolding the/Gods, whose promise, like yours, failed him, and gaping at/Black winds making his ocean’s/ Fair face unrecognizable./ He’s still credulous, though, hugging the prize he thinks/Pure gold, shining and fond, his for eternity./Ah, poor fool, but the breeze plays/ Tricks. Doomed, all who would venture to/ Sail that glittering sea. Fixed to the temple wall,/My plaque tells of an old sailor who foundered and,/Half-drowned, hung up his clothes to/Neptune, lord of the element.”

AG: That’s not a Sapphic.

Student: Yes it is.

AG: Let’s see.. I don’t believe it . I think it’s…

Student: (It’s a bit irregular, but..)

AG: It’s an ode… (an example of the) ode-form, which…  (John) Milton translated that particular poem. Do we have..? We don’t have that, do we, here in the anthology? –  A fragment of it is actually printed in one of these…on one of these sheets, just a little fragment of it, the last half. I’ll bring it in another time. It’s the same form that Milton used and (Andrew) Marvell used for his.. Marvell’s ode on Cromwell, – (“An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland”)  (“As if his highest plot/To plant the bergamot”)

(John Milton’s translation of Horace Book I – Ode V)

“What slender Youth bedewed with liquid odours/Courts thee on Roses in some pleasant Cave,/Pyrrha for whom bind’st thou/In wreaths thy golden Hair,/Plain in thy neatness? O how oft shall he/ On Faith and changed Gods complain: and Seas/ Rough with black winds and storms/ Unwonted shall admire:/Who now enjoys thee credulous, all Gold,/ Who always vacant, always amiable/Hopes thee; of flattering gales/ Unmindfull. Hapless they/To whom thou untri’d seems’t fair. Me in my vowd/ Picture the sacred wall declares t’ have hung/My dank and dropping weeds/To the stern God of Sea.”

Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa/perfusus liquidis urget odoribus/grato, Pyrrha,sub antro?/Cui flavam religas comam,/ simplex munditiis? Heu quotiens fidem/mutatosque deos flebit et aspera/nigris aequora ventis/emirabitur insolens/ qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,/qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem/sperat, nescius aurae/ fallacis. Miseri, quibus/intemptata nites. Me tabula sacer/ votiva paries indicat uvida/ suspendisse potenti/vestimenta maris deo.

[Audio for the above can be heard here beginning at approximately forty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in, and ending at approximately forty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in]

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