Thursday, November 21, 2013


De Horologio Portabili

Thomas Campion (1567-1620), Epigrams 1.151 (De Horologio Portabili), tr. "H.V." (probably Henry Vaughan) in Thomas Powell, Humane Industry : Or, A History Of most Manual Arts, Deducing the Original, Progress, and Improvement of them. Furnished with variety of Instances and Examples, shewing forth the excellency of Humane Wit (London: Henry Herringman, 1661), p. 12:
Times-Teller wrought into a little round,
Which count'st the days and nights with watchful sound;
How (when once fixt) with busie Wheels dost thou
The twice twelve useful hours drive on and show.
And where I go, go'st with me without strife,
The Monitor and Ease of fleeting life.
The same, tr. Dana F. Sutton:
Time’s interpreter, packed in a tiny globe, who day and night recalls the hour with a chime, how cheerfully, when once wound up, you tirelessly transverse twenty-four hours with your little moving wheels. Nor do you complain that I carry you as my comrade wherever I go, counting out the loss of my life, but also lightening its burden.
The Latin, from Percival Vivian, ed., Campion's Works (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909), p. 257:
Temporis interpres, paruum congestus in orbem,
  Qui memores repetis nocte dieque sonos:
Vt semel instructus iucunde sex quater horas
  Mobilibus rotulis irrequietus agis:
Nec mecum quocunque feror comes ire grauaris,
  Annumerans vitae damna, leuansque meae.
Watch set in an emerald crystal, dated 1576-1600, found in the Cheapside Hoard (Museum of London, accession number A14162):

Hat tip: Karl Maurer, who remarks that Campion's poem "seems hugely untranslatable — each word and phrase is so apt and many-sided. In line 3 'Vt' goes with 'iucunde' — 'How delightfully' etc., and 'semel instructus' means roughly 'once you are wound up'."

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