Friday, July 31, 2009


The Happy Man

Thanks to David Norton for pointing out a mistake in my quotation of Abraham Cowley's translation of Martial 10.47:
The first word of the 19th line of the Cowley passage from Martial that you posted yesterday is correctly Ana. Before I looked on the Internet I could detect only that the scansion was wanting; and the Internet gives quite a lively menagerie of errors beginning this line.
See the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), s.v. ana:
Used in recipes in the sense of throughout, of each, of every one alike, in specifying a quantity applicable to every ingredient; hence sometimes in older literature for 'an equal quantity or number.'
One of the OED citations is to this line of Cowley. The couplet should therefore read:
In the same weight Prudence and Innocence take,
Ana of each does the just mixture make.

Roger Kuin yesterday posted the French original and his elegant translation of a delightful sonnet (Le Bonheur de ce Monde) by Christophe Plantin. The sonnet reminded me of Martial 10.47. Here is Roger's translation:

To have a house convenient, clean and fair;
A wallèd garden lined with fragrant trees;
Fruit and fine wine, few servants and few children;
The only lover of a faithful wife;

No debts, no love-affairs, lawsuits nor feuds,
No wills to haggle out with relatives,
Simply content, dependent on no magnate,
And by a righteous rule to rule one's life;

To live in frankness, from ambition far;
With conscience clear devoted to devotion,
To tame one's passions until they obey,

To keep the spirit free and judgement strong,
Saying one's prayers while looking to one's pear-trees:
A kindly way at home to wait for Death.

Along with Cowley's translation of Martial 10.47, I also posted a translation of the same poem by Thomas Randolph (1600-1635). I've been reading more of Thomas Randolph's poetry, and I especially enjoyed his translation of Claudian's Old Man of Verona:
Happy the man that all his dayes hath spent
Within his owne grounds, and no farther went:
Whom the same house that did him erst behold
A little Infant, sees him now grown old,
That with his staffe walkes where he crawl'd before,
Counts th' age of one poore cottage and no more.
Fortune ne're him with various tumult prest,
Nor dranke he unknown streams, a wandring guest.
He fear'd no Merchants stormes, nor drummes of war,
Nor ever knew the strifes of the hoarse Bar.
Who though to th' next Towne he a stranger bee,
Yet heav'ns sweet prospect he injoyes more free.
From fruits, not Consuls, computation brings,
By Apples Autumnes knows, by flowers the springs.
Thus he the day by his owne orbe doth prize;
In the same feild his Sunne doth set and rise.
That knew an oake a twigge, and walking thither
Beholds a wood and he grown up together.
Neighbou'ring Veron he may for India take,
And thinke the red sea is Benacus lake.
Yet is his strength untam'd, and firme his knees,
Him the third age a lusty Grandsire sees.
Goe seeke who s' will the farre Iberian shore,
This man hath liv'd, though that hath travel'd more.
Camille Pissarro, Farmyard

Note to myself: read Maren-Sofie Røstvig, The Happy Man: Studies in the Metamorphoses of a Classical Ideal, 2 vols. (Oslo: Norwegian Universities Press, 1962-1971).

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