Friday, August 19, 2005


The Pyrrha Ode

Mallarme at the Great Nomadic Council discusses the fifth ode of Horace's first book. The Pyrrha ode was a favorite of Franklin P. Adams, who paraphrased or translated it at least half a dozen times.

Horace the Wise

What lady-like youth in his wild aberrations
  Is putting cologne on his brow?
For whom are the puffs and the blond transformations?
  I wonder who's kissing you now.

Tee hee! I must laugh when I think of his finish,
  Not wise to your ways and your rep.
Ha! ha! how his fancy for you will diminish!
  I know, for I'm Jonathan Hep.

Good-by, My Lover, Good-by!

O pretty Pyrrha, false as fair,
For whom dost thou do up thy hair,
Thy crown of gold, thy shining tresses?
What gracile youth gives thee caresses?

Alas! How often shall he find
The faithlessness of womankind!
As who should say, in utter wonder,
"How fair it was! Who thought of thunder?"

Ah -- wretched they that think thee fair,
Enmeshed in thy seductive snare!
I vow, by Neptune, ne'er to woo thee
Again, for I am jerry to thee.

Pyrrha the Flirtatious

Who is the arrowcollar kid
  You're playing in the grot with?
For whom the zippy Leghorn lid?
  Whom do you do the trot with?

Ha! Get me giggling, while I think
  How smooth appears the ocean
To him, the unsuspecting gink --
  But oh! that wavy motion!

I weep for them that are not joe,
  That think you sweet and clever.
Spear it from one who's in the know:
  I'm off your lay forever.

A Warning

Tell me, my Pyrrha, what youth is now chasing thee?
Who is thy flowered and redolent slave?
Where's the cool grotto in which he's embracing thee?
Who is the cause of thy permanent wave?

Often, how often, he'll call thee perfidious!
Frequently rail at the mutable gods!
He who is thrall to thy graces insidious,
Playing a game against terrible odds!

Who for thy favour is eager and sedulous,
Thinking thee pliable, deeming thee kind,
Loving and worshipping thee -- the poor, credulous
Fish, to thy falsity utterly blind!

Here in the temple of Neptune, I dedicate
Weeds that are dripping with warning, and damp.
Pyrrha's a plausible, beautiful vamp.

To a Coquette

What graceful youth, perfumed and slender,
Bids you, O Pyrrha, to surrender,
Embracing you for half an hour
Within the rose-encrusted bower?

Alas! how often will this youth
Sadden at seas no longer smooth!
And oh! how frequently he'll wonder
At waters rough with dark and thunder!

Doomed are the lads who when they meet
You think that you are honey-sweet;
As far as I'm concerned I'm through
With polyandrous girls like you.

A Roman Flirt

What slender lad, reeking with scent,
  Now gives thee roseate embraces?
For whom dost thou, in blandishment,
  Bind thy gold locks in simple graces?

Alas, how frequently he'll rue
  Thy heart so hard, thy soul so dowdy!
His heaven that seems forever blue
  Tomorrow will be blackly cloudy.

Forlorn are they who see thee shine;
  Blinded who gaze at thee unloathing.
I've hung upon the temple's line
  To dry, my sadly dripping clothing.

Here's the Latin original by Horace:

Quis multa gracilis te puer in rosa
perfusus liquidis urget odoribus
  grato, Pyrrha, sub antro?
  cui flavam religas comam,

simplex munditiis? Heu quotiens fidem
mutatosque deos flebit et aspera
  nigris aequora ventis
  emirabitur insolens,

qui nunc te fruitur credulus aurea,
qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem
  sperat, nescius aurae
  fallacis. Miseri, quibus

intemptata nites. Me tabula sacer
votiva paries indicat uvida
  suspendisse potenti
  vestimenta maris deo.

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