Friday, February 24, 2006


Thoreau and Anacreon

In his book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), Thoreau translated several poems by or attributed to Anacreon. Here is one of them, rather bold in its sexual imagery for the chaste Transcendentalist:
Thracian colt, why at me
Looking aslant with thy eyes,
Dost thou cruelly flee,
And think that I know nothing wise?
Know I could well
Put the bridle on thee,
And holding the reins, turn
Round the bounds of the course.
But now thou browsest the meads,
And gambolling lightly dost play,
For thou hast no skilful horseman
Mounted upon thy back.

Πῶλε Θρηικίη, τί δή με
  λοξὸν ὄμμασι βλέπουσα
νηλέως φεύγεις, δοκεῖς δέ
  μ' οὐδὲν εἰδέναι σοφόν;
ἴσθι τοι, καλῶς μὲν ἄν τοι
  τὸν χαλινὸν ἐμβάλοιμι,
ἡνίας δ' ἔχων στρέφοιμί
  σ' ἀμφὶ τέρματα δρόμου·
νῦν δὲ λειμῶνάς τε βόσκεαι
  κοῦφά τε σκιρτῶσα παίζεις,
δεξιὸν γὰρ ἱπποπείρην
  οὐκ ἔχεις ἐπεμβάτην.

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