Tuesday, May 17, 2016


The Seasons

Lucretius 5.737-747 (tr. C.S. Sisson):
Spring comes, and Venus with her, and ahead of Venus
Her winged forerunner, the spring breeze, and Flora
Her mother strews the way with flowers
And fills the world with marvellous colours and scents.        740

The next in order is the scorching heat, and Ceres
Her dusty companion, and the yearly winds from the north.

Then autumn advances with Bacchus and the Bacchantes;
Then other winds and other weathers will follow,
The roaring southeaster, the south wind full of lightning.        745

The solstice brings the snows and the numbing cold
And winter follows next with chattering teeth.

it Ver et Venus, et Veneris praenuntius ante
pennatus graditur, Zephyri vestigia propter
Flora quibus mater praespargens ante viai
cuncta coloribus egregiis et odoribus opplet;        740

inde loci sequitur Calor aridus et comes una
pulverulenta Ceres et etesia flabra Aquilonum;

inde Autumnus adit, graditur simul Euhius Euan;
inde aliae tempestates ventique sequuntur,
altitonans Volturnus et Auster fulmine pollens;        745

tandem Bruma nives adfert pigrumque rigorem
reddit; Hiemps sequitur crepitans hanc dentibus algu.
Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queene, Mutabilitie, Canto VII, Stanzas 28-31, with notes by Thomas P. Roche, Jr.:
So, forth issew'd the Seasons of the yeare;
First, lusty Spring, all dight in leaues of flowres
That freshly budded and new bloosmes did beare
(In which a thousand birds had built their bowres
That sweetly sung, to call forth Paramours):        5
And in his hand a iauelin he did beare,
And on his head (as fit for warlike stoures)
A guilt engrauen morion he did weare;
That as some did him loue, so others did him feare.

Then came the iolly Sommer, being dight
In a thin silken cassock coloured greene,
That was vnlyned all, to be more light:
And on his head a girlond well beseene
He wore, from which as he had chauffed been        5
The sweat did drop; and in his hand he bore
A boawe and shaftes, as he in forrest greene
Had hunted late the Libbard or the Bore,
And now would bathe his limbes, with labor heated sore.

Then came the Autumne all in yellow clad,
As though he ioyed in his plentious store,
Laden with fruits that made him laugh, full glad
That he had banisht hunger, which to-fore
Had by the belly oft him pinched sore.        5
Vpon his head a wreath that was enrold
With eares of corne, of euery sort he bore:
And in his hand a sickle he did holde,
To reape the ripened fruits the which the earth had yold.

Lastly, came Winter cloathed all in frize,
Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill,
Whil'st on his hoary beard his breath did freese;
And the dull drops that from his purpled bill
As from a limbeck did adown distill.        5
In his right hand a tipped staffe he held,
With which his feeble steps he stayed still:
For, he was faint with cold, and weak with eld;
That scarse his loosed limbes he hable was to weld.

28 1 issew'd: came forth.
28 8 morion: helmet.
29 4 well beseene: well adorned.
29 S chauffed: heated (French: chauffer).
29 8 Libbard: leopard.
30 4 to-fore: before.
31 1 in frize: frieze is a coarse woollen cloth.
31 4 bill: nose.
31 5 limbeck: alembic, a vessel for distilling; a retort.
31 9 loosed: out of joint. See Sidney's translation of Psalms 22.8.
        to weld: wield, manage.

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