Monday, January 16, 2012
Fixed in Place
Happy is He who on his own fields stage,The old man of Verona may never have wandered far from his "homely Cottage," but in this translation Fane places him in what is now Cambridgeshire (Stranground, i.e. Stanground, and Farcet).
And no where else, hath acted ore his Age;
He, whom his own house, (had it eyes and tongue)
Might say it sees Him old, and saw him young.
Now trusting to a staff, he treads those sands
He formerly had crept on with his hands:
So reckons up the long descent and (dotage
Through decays) of that his homely Cottage.
He ne'r was drawn with fortunes Train to haste,
Nor did He flatter Forain springs with taste;
He was no Merchant-man might fear the Straits,
Nor Souldier fancying Military baits;
He never Pleaded, neither strife nor force,
Of brabling Law-suits ever made him hoarse:
But (as uncapable of business) free
Cannot resolve what the next town should be,
Yet doth enjoy a prospect (may controule
All others) of the free Aire, and Pole.
Nor casts He up the year by Consuls now,
But as the Fruit-trees to their seasons bow;
By Apples Autumn, Spring by Flowers befalls him.
One field hides Phoebus-face, the same recalls him:
And thus This Countrey-swains observing way
Measures within his Orb the Course of Day.
He did remember yon great Oak, when 't stood
But for a sapling, so's grown old with's wood:
And judging that same Ile (with less wits blest
More Barbarism) to be th' Indies East:
He doth conclude the Red-sea to be neer,
Beholding Stranground, Farcet, and the Meer:
And yet through strength unconquer'd he may gather
Comfort, the third Age sees him Grandfather.
Let others wander to the farth'st of Spain,
The way is onely Theirs, but life His gain.
I haven't read "Claudian's Old Man of Verona: An Anthology of English Translations with a New Poem by Edwin Morgan," Translation and Literature 2 (1993) 87-97, but for some other translations and the original Latin see:
- There Was an Old Man of Verona (Abraham Cowley, Maurice Platnauer)
- Happy the Man (Thomas Randolph)
- In Cities Never Seen (Henry Vaughan)