Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Well Content

Allan Ramsay (1684-1758), "The Poet's Wish," Poems, Vol. I (Paisley: Alex. Gardner, 1877), pp. 67-68 (line numbers added):
Frae great Apollo, poet, say,
What is thy wish? What wadst thou hae,
  When thou bows at his shrine?
Not Carse o' Gowrie's fertile field;
Nor a' the flocks the Grampians yield,        5
  That are baith sleek and fine;
Not costly things brought frae afar,
  As ivory, pearl, and gems;
Nor those fair straths, that water'd are
  With Tay and Tweed's smooth streams,        10
    Which gentily, and daintily,
      Pare down the flow'ry braes,
    As greatly and quietly
      They wimple to the seas.

Whaever by his canny fate,        15
Is master of a good estate,
  That can ilk thing afford,
Let him enjoy't withoutten care,
And with the wale of curious fare
  Cover his ample board.        20
Much dawted by the gods is he,
  Wha to the Indian plain
Successfu' ploughs the wally sea,
  And safe returns again,
    With riches, that hitches        25
      Him high aboon the rest
    Of sma' folk, and a' folk,
      That are wi' poortith prest.

For me, I can be well content
To eat my bannock on the bent,        30
  And kitchen 't wi' fresh air;
Of lang-kail I can make a feast,
And cantily had up my crest,
  And laugh at dishes rare.
Nought frae Apollo I demand        35
  But through a lengthen'd life,
My outer fabric firm may stand,
  And saul clear without strife.
    May he then, but gie then,
      Those blessings for my skair;        40
    I'll fairly, and squairly,
      Quit a', and seek nae mair.
Some notes to aid my understanding:

1 Frae: From (also 7, 24, 35)
2 hae: have
4 Carse o' Gowrie: the "Garden of Scotland," farmland in Perthshire
5 a': all (also 27, 42); Grampians: mountain range
6 baith: both
9 straths: river valleys
12 braes: banks
14 wimple: meander, twist
15 canny: lucky
17 ilk: any
19 wale: choicest
21 dawted: favored
23 wally: wavy
25 hitches: raises
26 aboon: above
27 sma': small
28 poortith: poverty
30 bannock: round, flat oatmeal cake; bent: grass
31 kitchen: season (as a verb)
32 lang-kail: long cabbage, a variety of cabbage
33 cantily: cheerfully, blithely; had up: hold up; crest: pride
38 saul: soul
39 gie: give
40 skair: portion
42 nae mair: no more

As is well known, Ramsay's poem is an imitation of Horace, Odes 1.31. Here are translation (p. 81) and text (p. 80) of that ode from Horace, Odes and Epodes. Edited and Translated by Niall Rudd (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004 = Loeb Classical Library, 33), with Rudd's notes:
What boon does the bard ask of the newly consecrated Apollo?56 What does he pray for as he pours a libation of new wine from the bowl?57 Not the fertile cornfields of rich Sardinia, not the fine herds of sweltering Calabria, not Indian gold or ivory, not an estate which is gnawed by the Liris, that silent river, with its gentle stream. Let those to whom fortune has granted it prune the vine with a Calenian knife;58 let the rich trader quaff from a golden goblet wines procured with Syrian merchandise, dear, as he is, to the gods themselves, since, of course, he visits the Atlantic ocean three or four times a year and returns in safety. As for me, I eat olives, I eat endives and mallows—nothing heavy. Grant, o son of Latona, that I may enjoy what I possess—in good health, I pray you, and with full mental vigour; and may I have an old age that is not lacking in dignity or bereft of music.

56 Apollo's temple on the Palatine was consecrated by Augustus on 9 October 28 B.C.
57 At the festival of the Meditrinalia two days later.
58 Because the vine is in Cales in Campania.

Quid dedicatum poscit Apollinem
vates? quid orat de patera novum
  fundens liquorem? non opimae
    Sardiniae segetes feraces,
non aestuosae grata Calabriae        5
armenta, non aurum aut ebur Indicum,
  non rura quae Liris quieta
    mordet aqua taciturnus amnis.
premant Calenam falce quibus dedit
fortuna vitem, dives et aureis        10
  mercator exsiccet culillis
    vina Syra reparata merce,
dis carus ipsis, quippe ter et quater
anno revisens aequor Atlanticum
  impune. me pascunt olivae,
    me cichorea levesque malvae.        15
frui paratis et valido mihi,
Latoe, dones, et,16 precor, integra
  cum mente, nec turpem senectam
    degere nec cithara carentem.        20

16 et Lambinus] at
In line 9 Rudd prints Calenam (modifying vitem) but translates Calena (modifying falce). His critical apparatus shows no variant, but in D.R. Shackleton Bailey's Teubner edition I see (with the help of Amazon's Look Inside! feature) the following:
Calena] -am P1 P ut uid. (B)
where P is Porphyrio when lemma and gloss agree, P1 when they disagree, and B is Bernensis 363. This is another case where either Rudd's text or his translation should be changed, so that they match.


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