Friday, November 23, 2012


Another Translation of Claudian's Old Man of Verona

Thanks to Ian Jackson for drawing my attention to another translation of one of my favorite Latin poems. The translation is by John Latham (1787-1853), "The Old Man of Verona. From Claudian," in his English and Latin Poems, Original and Translated (London: T. Richards, 1853), pp. 104-109 (English on odd-numbered pages):
Blest who beyond his fathers' fields
    Through life has never cared to roam,
To whom the self-same roof still yields
    From infancy to age a home.

Whose steps, upon that very spot
    Where once he crawled, a staff now bears,
Fond to retrace of that one cot
    The annals through a hundred years.

In varied quest of distant schemes
    Him fortune never forced to stray,
He never drank of unknown streams,
    A restless wanderer far away.

No merchant, whom each swelling sea,
    No soldier, whom each blast of war
Fills with alarm, no lawyer he
    Vexed with the hoarse and wrangling bar.

In state affairs he boasts no skill,
    What cities are he never knew;
Enough, that Heaven's blue concave still
    Is free and open to his view.

Others by consuls date the year,—
    He by alternate crops computes;
He knows 'tis spring when flowers appear,
    'Tis autumn when he culls his fruits.

One field is his horizon's bound,
    Here dawns the sun, there sets his ray,
While, by the same unvaried round
    Of toil, he measures every day.

Yon spreading oak's enormous girth
    A slender sapling he has known,
Both from one era took their birth,
    And both together old have grown.

Verona's neighbouring town he deems
    Remote as swarthy India's shore.
And Guarda's lake so distant seems,
    Not the Red sea itself seems more.

Yet hath his vigour time defied,
    Still can his arm in toil engage;
While his son's sons behold with pride
    Their lusty grandsire's green old age.

What then if some, the world to see,
    To fair Iberia may have strayed:
On earth a longer sojourn he,
    A longer journey they have made.
Other translations:

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