Thursday, June 21, 2012


Accolti's Ode to Sleep Revisited

Thanks very much to Karl Maurer for sending his verse translation of Accolti's Ode to Sleep, with notes:
Night rushes: driving dark steeds in the sky,
    she darkens dark earth with her gentle cold;
and chasing worries from all kinds of people
    lightens weak limbs, as sleep suffuses them.
Yet my tired mind finds no oblivion                       5
    and Sleep, you, too, forever shun my prayers.
Sleep, heart’s own Rest, Sleep, only Ease of Worries,
    come, Secret One, come on your sacred feet,
and with your bough dipped in the stream of Lethe,
    defeat and wet my brows with your light dew.   10
Drive out at last the stubborn crowds of worries;
    and let me worriless pursue your gifts,
so that no troubles of a ruined Age may touch me
    nor grim fears reawaken crueller times.
For you I’ll bring fresh blossoms, freshest casia,    15
    where a sweet-sounding wave runs on light feet,
and that loud bird that has a scarlet crest,
    for you will stain the soil, with its throat cut!
Now let your power tie the exhausted limbs
    while in delight descend the lucid stars.              20
(14) To me "tristes metus" seem the subject. One could take them as object; but I think that Sleep does not abolish bad times, but the fears, that bring back bad times.

(16) "facili unda pede": the “wave” I think is that of a brook or spring: as in Horace Epode 16.47-8 "montibus altis / levis crepante lympha desilit pede"

(20) "iuvat et cadunt": perhaps hendiadys = laeta cadunt (vel sim.).

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