Saturday, August 13, 2011


Opulent Summer

Theocritus 7.135-147 (tr. T.F. Higham):
Dangling above our heads hung canopies
Of whispering elms and rustling poplar-trees;
Near us the water of the sacred well
Dropped from the Nymphs' cave, tinkling as it fell;
On every twig in shadow sat with glee
The sunburnt crickets, chattering busily;
And murmuring afar off in solitude,
Bowered in the deep thorn-brake, the turtle cooed.
All rich delight and luxury was there:
Larks and bright finches singing in the air;
The brown bees flying around the well;
The ring-dove moaning; everywhere the smell
Of opulent summer and of ripening-tide:
Pears at our feet and apples at our side
Rolling in plenteousness; in piles around
Branches, with damsons burdening to the ground,
Strewn for our feast; and from the full wine-tun
Wax of a four-years-aged seal undone.
The same, tr. C.S. Calverley:
A wealth of elm and poplar shook o'erhead;
Hard by, a sacred spring flowed gurgling on
From the Nymphs' grot, and in the sombre boughs
The sweet cicada chirped laboriously.
Hid in the thick thorn-bushes far away
The treefrog's note was heard; the crested lark
Sang with the goldfinch; turtles made their moan,
And o'er the fountain hung the gilded bee.
All of rich summer smacked, of autumn all:
Pears at our feet, and apples at our side
Rolled in luxuriance; branches on the ground
Sprawled, overweighed with damsons; while we brushed
From the cask's head the crust of four long years.
The same, in Andrew Lang's prose version:
And high above our heads waved many a poplar, many an elm tree, while close at hand the sacred water from the nymphs' own cave welled forth with murmurs musical. On shadowy boughs the burnt cicalas kept their chattering toil, far off the little owl cried in the thick thorn brake, the larks and finches were singing, the ring-dove moaned, the yellow bees were flitting about the springs. All breathed the scent of the opulent summer, of the season of fruits; pears at our feet and apples by our sides were rolling plentiful, the tender branches, with wild plums laden, were earthward bowed, and the four-year-old pitch seal was loosened from the mouth of the wine-jars.
The Greek:
πολλαὶ δ᾽ ἄμμιν ὕπερθε κατὰ κρατὸς δονέοντο
αἴγειροι πτελέαι τε· τὸ δ᾽ ἐγγύθεν ἱερὸν ὕδωρ
Νυμφᾶν ἐξ ἄντροιο κατειβόμενον κελάρυζε.
τοὶ δὲ ποτὶ σκιαραῖς ὀροδαμνίσιν αἰθαλίωνες
τέττιγες λαλαγεῦντες ἔχον πόνον· ἁ δ᾽ ὀλολυγών
τηλόθεν ἐν πυκιναῖσι βάτων τρύζεσκεν ἀκάνθαις·
ἄειδον κόρυδοι καὶ ἀκανθίδες, ἔστενε τρυγών,
πωτῶντο ξουθαὶ περὶ πίδακας ἀμφὶ μέλισσαι.
πάντ᾽ ὦσδεν θέρεος μάλα πίονος, ὦσδε δ᾽ ὀπώρας.
ὄχναι μὲν πὰρ ποσσί, παρὰ πλευραῖσι δὲ μᾶλα
δαψιλέως ἁμῖν ἐκυλίνδετο· τοὶ δ᾽ ἐκέχυντο
ὄρπακες βραβίλοισι καταβρίθοντες ἔραζε.
τετράενες δὲ πίθων ἀπελύετο κρατὸς ἄλειφαρ.
Claude Monet, Déjeuner sur l'herbe

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